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   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.


Cruise News - May 23, 2016

Don't forget to check out CruisePage.com, the Internet's largest cruise database. With over 11,000 cruise itineraries and over 300 ship profiles, CruisePage.com is the perfect tool to help you find and book the perfect cruise.

Queen Máxima of the Netherlands Names HAL's New ms Koningsdam at a Ceremony in Rotterdam
In a festive event rich with Dutch heritage, Holland America Line held a Dedication Ceremony for ms Koningsdam Friday, May 20, 2016, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands officially blessed the bell and named Koningsdam on board ship in front of invited dignitaries, cruise guests, travel partners and media.

Queen Máxima performs the ceremonial honors of blessing the ship’s bell in the Lido pool area by pouring a glass of champagne over the bell"The celebration began with Her Majesty Queen Máxima performing the ceremonial honors of blessing the ship’s bell in the Lido pool area by pouring a glass of champagne over the bell. The blessing of the ship’s bell is a hallowed Holland America Line tradition when welcoming a new ship to the fleet. Her Majesty also was the first to sign Koningsdam’s commemorative wall that will become a permanent installation on the ship.

Next, the ship was officially christened during a ceremony in the World Stage theater when Her Majesty Queen Máxima pulled a rope to trigger the traditional champagne bottle break on Koningsdam’s hull.

“It’s an honor to have Her Majesty Queen Máxima as the godmother to Koningsdam, and May 20 was a truly special day with Her Majesty delivering the ceremonial traditions of welcoming our newest ship to the fleet,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “As our company was founded in Rotterdam more than 143 years ago, it was fitting to return to our roots for Koningsdam’s royal dedication.”

Also a traditional part of dedicating a new ship for the line is the appointment of Mariner Ambassadors to represent the important role of loyal repeat guests in the company’s ongoing success. Serving as Koningsdam’s Mariner Ambassadors were Enrique “Rick” Encarnacion and Ernest Schenk. Both dedicated Mariners, the pair have sailed more than 1,650 days each on Holland America Line cruises. Schenk first sailed with the line on a trans-Atlantic cruise aboard ss Ryndam. Encarnacion first sailed with Holland America Line in 1997 aboard an ms Statendam Panama Canal cruise.

Following the ceremony, a gala luncheon was held onboard in addition to shipwide celebrations throughout the day. In the evening the ship will set sail for Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to overnight on May 21, and fireworks lit up the sky as Koningsdam passed Hoek van Holland. Thousands of Dutch residents came out throughout the day to join in Holland America Line’s special events.

During its inaugural season in Europe, Koningsdam sails in the Mediterranean and then repositions from Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) to its summer homeport of Amsterdam. The ship will go on to sail roundtrip Amsterdam itineraries to Norway, the Baltic and Iceland.

Following its Europe season, Koningsdam will homeport at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The ship will sail one cruise to the Bahamas and then a series of Caribbean voyages from November 2016 through March 2017.

Norwegian Joy To Feature First Ever Race Kart Track at Sea
Cruise ship passengers can look forward to an outstanding attraction onboard Norwegian Cruise Line's next vessel Norwegian Joy, which will feature a fully equipped premium Go-Kart track built by RiMO Supply, a company of the RiMO Germany Group and a world leader for rental karts and tracks.

Norwegian Joy To Feature First Ever Race Kart Track at SeaNorwegian Joy is currently under construction at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany and will be designed for 3,900 guests. The ship's racetrack will be located on the ship's upper decks, 18 and 19, and will be equipped with 20 karts, a viewing platform, covered pit lane, workshop, storage room, timing system, floodlights and a track that reaches 230 meters in length. This prestigious project represents a further milestone in the successful company history. With steel construction company B. Levermann GmbH, located in Neuenrade, a competent partner out of the region is also involved.

RiMO Supply's electrically powered race karts utilize the latest generation of technology to ensure optimal usage under the unique conditions of intensified UV and saltwater exposure that exist onboard a cruise ship. All karts are being constructed according to the highest international standards and the track's functionality is equal to any high class land-based karting facility - with the addition of an incredible view at 60m height.

The growing popularity and importance of electronic technology can be noticed in the karting sector as more and more companies opt to use this environmentally friendly and low-maintenance technology. RiMO experts are convinced that electric powered vehicles are the future in kart sports.

"We are proud to contribute our years of experience to such an outstanding project," said Peter Bertram, owner and CEO of RiMO Germany Group.

"The electronically controlled engine sound as well as the non-existent exhausts are sure to meet cruise passengers' expectations of a relaxed but varied and unique ride. Cruise ship passengers of nearly every age should be excited to have the opportunity to enjoy this one-of-a-kind amusement ride found only on Norwegian Joy."

Home porting in Shanghai & Tianjin (Beijing), Norwegian Joy was designed by the team at Norwegian Cruise Line to provide First Class at Sea experiences specifically for the Chinese traveler, with onboard amenities that cater to the unique vacation desires of Chinese guests.

The Tallest Slide at Sea on Harmony of the Seas Delivers Top Thrill Factor
Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, claims another record as home to the tallest slide and most exhilarating adventure at sea: Ultimate Abyss. The hair-raising, 10-story slide is “possibly the most thrilling manmade adventure at sea,” according to thrill engineer Professor Brendan Walker, Thrill Laboratory, U.K., director. Enlisted to identify the level of “thrill,” a sudden feeling of excitement and pleasure, triggered by the Ultimate Abyss, Walker measured physical reactions of testers brave enough to accept the challenge. Walker also compared the latest innovation by the global cruise line known for many firsts-at-sea to other Royal Caribbean signatures, the FlowRider surf simulator and RockWall, to compare the varying levels of thrill available onboard Harmony of the Seas. Ultimate Abyss scored a Walker Thrill Factor of 45.35 percent as compared to the FlowRider (36.15 percent) and RockWall (34.59 percent). Considering it is highly unlikely that a single experience could be designed to score a Walker Thrill Factor of 100 percent, these scores are understood to be at the highend of thrill attractions; therefore, making Harmony the ultimate cruise ship for adrenaline junkies.

The Tallest Slide at Sea on Harmony of the Seas Delivers Top Thrill Factor“Royal Caribbean's legacy of imagination and innovation is reflected in all of the ships we build and Harmony of the Seas is no exception. It's not about building the largest cruise ships in the world, it's about creating the most amazing collection of unexpected experiences and activities at sea," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Having experienced it myself, I have no doubt that the Ultimate Abyss will be absoluately thrilling for our guests but it is really gratifying to get confirmation from such a thrill expert as Professor Brendan Walker. The exciting multisensory experience that this tallest slide at sea offers, combined with other Royal Caribbean firsts such as the Flowrider and the RockWall, confirms that Harmony isn't just the largest cruise ship in the world but also the ultimate adventure at sea."

The two-day test conducted during the final days of construction at the shipyard observed 10 individuals who had never experienced Ultimate Abyss and only limited exposure to the two other activities. Demonstrating the effect that Ultimate Abyss has on the body, Walker’s data revealed that the slide experience caused heartbeats to increase by an average of 44 beats per minute compared to the resting rate for a 30-year-old adult of average fitness. Overall, Ultimate Abyss caused facial expressions of extreme pleasure to be activated more than 40 percent of the time, with the sympathetic nervous system – the body’s primary process in stimulating the fight-or-flight response – becoming 15.74 percent more active than when at rest. Riders on the Ultimate Abyss experienced a complex and unique set of sensations at each of the five stages of thrill, all culminating in a euphoric crescendo to guarantee the ultimate rider satisfaction.

Having tested the riders’ capabilities on the gutsiest of rides, Walker offered his stamp of approval that Ultimate Abyss not only unleashed the five stages of thrill but was also determined to be the most thrilling attraction onboard Harmony of the Seas. Walker believes that even though not all rides are the same, they need to deliver thrill across the following five separate stages in order to be classified as thrilling:

• Imagining: When the rider consciously entertains the idea of riding. The stronger the rider can imagine riding the ride, the stronger the moments of thrill
• Approaching: As the thought of riding becomes a reality, the moments of thrill created through imagination become intensified in a "countdown to thrill"
• Committing: The rider passes through a stage of no return such as being strapped into a ride or being urged on by friends. At this stage, the only way to proceed is forward
• Doing: The ride begins. If it’s thrilling, the ride will provide intense novel sensations that will immerse the rider and transport them into a state of flow
• Celebrating: The ride ends. The rider experiences an afterglow as adrenaline and dopamine - the results of arousal and pleasure – continue to course through their brains

Walker commented: “Across the three rides we tested, the combination of thrill levels achieved at each stage caused riders to experience an overwhelming sense of elation - and Harmony of the Seas’ Ultimate Abyss recorded the highest combined thrill score across all stages. The initial arrival experience – riders climb the stairs leading up to the slide platform, walk over the clear platform suspended above a more than 90-foot drop – sets the tone for the experience, and when combined with the multisensory experience during the slide, Ultimate Abyss has a hugely thrilling effect. This combination of a natural phenomenon – the feeling of being small in comparison to the endless ocean view – coupled with a manmade experience (i.e. a stainless steel slide) is defining a new genre of thrill that is setting the standard for future attractions as people demand more extreme and expertly crafted thrill-seeking adventures.”

Harmony of the Seas is the world’s largest cruise ship with a bold and unexpected lineup of experiences found nowhere else on land or sea. An architectural marvel, Harmony of the Seas combines the distinct seven-neighborhood concept that Royal Caribbean's Oasis class of ships are known for with some of the most modern and groundbreaking amenities. Innovative features include The Ultimate Abyss, a thrilling slide 10 stories high – the tallest at sea, robot bartenders, virtual balconies with real-time views of the destination for interior rooms, and VOOM – the fastest internet at sea – so that guests can stay connected, stream their favorite entertainment and share their adventures.

Unparalleled entertainment in the air, in water and on ice will keep guests dazzled with exciting high-diving, acrobatic and aquatic performances in the deepest pool at sea at the iconic AquaTheater; an ice show extravaganza and Broadway’s hit musical Grease.

Imaginative dining in the ship's 20 venues include the widest variety of cuisine from Wonderland, a whimsical culinary adventure for the senses, to the popular Jamie's Italian by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 guest decks, encompass 226,963 gross registered tons, carry 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms.

Harmony of the Seas will homeport in Barcelona, Spain and embark on the first of 34 seven-night sailings in the western Mediterranean on June 7, exploring some of Europe’s most beautiful locations. In November 2016, Harmony will arrive at her homeport of Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, FL., from where she will offer seven-night eastern and western Caribbean sailings. The newest member of the fleet will join sister-ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, sailing from Port Canaveral and Port Everglades respectively, on the east coast of Florida

Launch Ceremony Held for Carnival Cruise Line’s Second Vista Class Vessel
Launch Ceremony Held for Carnival Cruise Line’s Second Vista Class VesselEarlier this week at Fincantieri’s historic Castellammare shipyard located along Italy’s Sorrento peninsula, a launch ceremony was held for Carnival Cruise Line’s second Vista-class ship scheduled to enter service in spring 2018.

Carnival President Christine Duffy served as godmother to this event, during which a gigantic, 300-foot-long section of the ship’s hull, constructed at the Fincantieri shipyard, was launched into the water via a traditional method that involved sliding the section down a ramp versus the newer, more common method of filling a dry dock with water.

After a priest’s blessing, Duffy cut a ceremonial cord, releasing the massive section into the water to great fanfare. The section will be moved via tug boats to Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard where other sections of the ship are being constructed. The second Vista-class ship will be completed at the Marghera shipyard and is scheduled to enter service in spring 2018.

The as-yet-unnamed 133,500-ton ship will offer a variety of dining, bar, entertainment and activity options currently featured aboard Carnival Vista, which debuted earlier this month, along with some innovations unique to this vessel.

Seabourn Opens New Signature Restaurant
Seabourn has announced the opening of its new signature restaurant, The Grill by Thomas Keller, on Seabourn Quest. With a menu, wine list and ambience inspired by a classic American chophouse, The Grill is a collaboration between three-star Michelin chef Thomas Keller and designer Adam D. Tihany, exclusively for Seabourn. The Grill by Thomas Keller officially opened for dinner on Seabourn Quest on May 21, 2016.

Richard Meadows, President of Seabourn; Adam Tihany, designer for The Grill; Chef Thomas Keller"The opening of The Grill by Thomas Keller marks the start of a new chapter in Seabourn's long history of award-winning cuisine," said Seabourn President Richard Meadows. "We are excited for guests to enjoy the restaurant's top-quality ingredients matched by a tremendous wine list, while traveling the world with Seabourn."

Located on Deck 8, The Grill focuses on updated versions of iconic dishes where guests are treated to American chophouse classics as well as a range of other steakhouse favorites. The timeless menu will draw on many artisan purveyors, while a wine list of domestic and old world labels personally curated by Chef Keller will complement each dish. Oenophiles and casual wine drinkers alike will find many rare offerings on the menu, which features more than 90 selections from around the world.

The interior designs by Adam D. Tihany enhance the dining experience with spaces that will be distinctive to the ship, yet defined by intimate settings with an elegant and warm masculine quality. The Grill by Thomas Keller is located in newly renovated spaces formerly occupied by Restaurant 2, which was extensively refit during a recent dry dock period.

Chef Thomas Keller began his partnership with Seabourn in 2015 and underlines the luxury cruise line's commitment to offering outstanding guest experiences.

The Grill will be open for dinner daily, and guests will have the opportunity to secure reservations online in advance of their cruise. In keeping with Seabourn's all-inclusive rates, there is no additional charge to dine at the specialty restaurant.

Disney Cruise Line Returning to New York, California and Texas in Fall 2017
In the fall of 2017, Disney Cruise Line will return to New York with sailings to the Bahamas and the Canadian coast – including a new seven-night Canada cruise. San Diego will serve as a home port with cruises to Mexico, and Galveston will again be a homeport with sailings to the Caribbean and Bahamas.

New Canada coast itinerary and new ports from New York - Disney Cruise Line returns to New York City in the fall of 2017, for a mix of voyages that include Canada coast and Bahamas itineraries.

Disney Magic sails into Galveston for the first time in 2012On Oct. 21, the Disney Magic will sail from New York on a seven-night Canada sailing – the line's longest-ever voyage to the Atlantic Canada coast. This sailing includes a new port of call for Disney Cruise Line – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Bar Harbor, Maine, is another new port of call for Disney Cruise Line and part of a five-night sailing that departs New York on Sept. 27. This cruise also will stop at Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.

A total of six seven- and eight-night sailings to the Bahamas, all including a visit to Disney's private island, Castaway Cay, will be a part of the 2017 New York season.

Adding to the magic on each of the Bahamian cruises will be the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World Resort when the ship stops at Port Canaveral, Fla. Each guest on these sailings will receive a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and round-trip transportation for the short drive between the ship and the resort.

Return to San Diego, California - In September and October of 2017, Disney Cruise Line will return to San Diego with a variety of Disney Wonder cruises to Baja and the Mexican Riviera.

On most Baja sailings, guests can visit Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico, to enjoy world-famous beaches and snorkeling. Two-night cruises depart San Diego on Sept. 15, Sept. 22 and Oct. 13, and a three-night cruise departs Oct. 5 and includes a day at sea.

Mexican Riviera itineraries feature snorkeling and scuba diving hot spots, while Puerto Vallerta and Mazatlan are where cliff divers, culture and ziplining through the jungle canopy take center stage. Seven-night itineraries departing on Sept. 24 and Oct. 15, call on Puerto Vallerta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Four additional four- and five-night Mexican Riviera cruises set sail during the season in San Diego.

Return to Galveston, Texas - Disney Cruise Line returns to Galveston in 2017, with a line up of eight seven-night cruises to the Caribbean and the Bahamas. All Bahamian itineraries include a stop at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas.

On Nov. 10 and Dec. 1, the Disney Wonder will sail a western Caribbean itinerary from Galveston to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Falmouth, Jamaica.

On Nov. 17, Nov. 24, Dec, 8, Dec. 15, Dec. 22 and Dec. 29, the Disney Wonder will sail from Galveston to Key West, Nassau and Castaway Cay.

Carnival Corporation Consolidates Media Planning, Buying with Omnicom's PHD
Carnival Corporation & plc the world's largest leisure travel company, today announced it is partnering with PHD, a leading Omnicom advertising agency, to handle all media planning and buying for seven of its 10 global cruise brands in North America and the United Kingdom.

Carnival Corporation Consolidates Media Planning, Buying with Omnicom's PHDFollowing an extensive agency review and media buying analysis, Carnival Corporation is consolidating from six agencies to a single firm, awarding PHD its media planning and buying business based on the firm's global expertise, capabilities and purchasing power for North America and the UK.

PHD will handle media planning and buying responsibilities for Carnival Cruise Line, Fathom, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, P&O Cruises UK and Cunard Line in the North America and UK markets. PHD currently supports media planning and buying for Carnival Cruise Line and Cunard Line.

The move leverages Carnival Corporation's scale as the world's largest cruise company to improve the strategic coordination of media buying across multiple brands in two of the world's largest regions for cruise vacations. It is expected to help generate awareness and drive increased demand for cruising, while creating multi-million dollar savings in media costs. In 2015, Carnival Corporation's six brands in the two regions combined for $116 million in media spend.

"We are excited to partner with the team at PHD across our leading portfolio of cruise brands in North America and in the UK," said Josh Leibowitz, chief strategy officer for Carnival Corporation. "Bringing together our brands to work with a world class agency like PHD enables us to further enhance our digital and traditional media strategies to grow demand for cruising as the world's best vacation choice."

Leibowitz added: "As part of our ongoing efforts to leverage our scale across 10 global cruise brands, this agreement enables our brands to work together in a completely new way. We appreciate everyone on our collective teams for all the hard work that made this possible."

PHD will use its significant purchasing power, sophisticated research resources and advanced business intelligence tools to provide Carnival Corporation strategic expertise and support for its marketing programs. PHD will work closely with the company and its brands on a framework that enables strategic coordination for media buying across multiple brands and regions, which will create efficiencies in media spending and help unlock demand for cruise vacations.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.91 - 0.16%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 78.26 + 2.07%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.50 + 0.40%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 46.76 - 1.29%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What year was the last four stacker liner removed from service and what was the name of the ship?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which classic liner included among her amenities: 20 dog kennels - each carpeted with running water - and a replica New York City fire hydrant for her canine passengers?

Answer - The first ship to have a fire hydrant and Parisian lampost is the France of 1962.
courtesy of Stephen Price


Cruise News - May 16, 2016

Royal Caribbean Conducts Delivery Ceremony Of Harmony Of The Seas
Royal Caribbean International today honored the crew and project team of the new Harmony of the Seas at a traditional delivery and flag changing ceremony in Saint Nazaire, France. Following 32 months of construction at the STX France shipyard involving thousands of shipyard employees, sub-contractors and suppliers, the world's largest and most innovative cruise ship is now home to 2,100 crew members from 77 different nationalities. Joining the festivities in the ship's signature AquaTheater were Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International together with Laurent Castaing, General Manager, STX France.

Royal Caribbean International today honored the crew and project team of the new Harmony of the Seas at a traditional delivery and flag changing ceremony in Saint Nazaire, France. Following 32 months of construction at the STX France shipyard involving thousands of shipyard employees, sub-contractors and suppliers, the world's largest and most innovative cruise ship is now home to 2,100 crew members from 77 different nationalities."Harmony of the Seas is the product of our zealous spirit of continuous improvement, where we have combined revolutionary ship design with the technological strides that have defined the Royal Caribbean brand," said Richard D. Fain. "Thank you to STX France for their ongoing partnership in building our ships, which continue to introduce unexpected industry innovations."

Royal Caribbean International today honored the crew and project team of the new Harmony of the Seas at a traditional delivery and flag changing ceremony in Saint Nazaire, France. Following 32 months of construction at the STX France shipyard involving thousands of shipyard employees, sub-contractors and suppliers, the world's largest and most innovative cruise ship is now home to 2,100 crew members from 77 different nationalities.

"Harmony is truly magnificent in every sense of the word, from her architecture and design to the level of care and attention to detail with which our incredible crew are taking to prepare for our first guests," said Michael Bayley. "The ship is the 'best of the best' of what our guests love most about Royal Caribbean, combined with new and thrilling experiences never before found in one place but it is the passion and dedication of our crew that will make everlasting memories for our guests."

Costing more than a $1billion, Harmony of the Seas will be the 25th ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet and boasts highly anticipated first-at-sea experiences, including:

• A 100-foot drop with The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, plunging courageous adrenaline seekers 10 stories down from deck 16 to the Boardwalk on deck 6 4,700,000 lbs. (2,150 tons) of water in 23 swimming pools, whirlpools, two FlowRider surf simulators and waterslides, including the Perfect Storm, a thrilling trio of waterslides, and the Splashaway Bay waterpark for young guests

• The first double-story Wonderland, the specialty restaurant concept first introduced onboard the global cruise line's Quantum class of ships delivering an imaginative and whimsical feast for all the senses

• The debut of Broadway's hit musical Grease in the Royal Theater and spectacular diving shows in the AquaTheater 11,252 works of art showcased throughout the ship and Central Park, a living park in the center of the ship which features a total of 10,587 plants, 48 vine plants and 52 trees, some over 20 feet (6.1 meters) high

• VOOM, the fastest internet at sea, available exclusively to Royal Caribbean guests, which allows travelers to seamlessly stay connected, stream their favorite entertainment, video chat and share their adventures with friends and family at home

Harmony of the Seas will homeport in Barcelona, Spain and embark on the first of 34 seven-night sailings in the western Mediterranean on June 7, exploring some of Europe's most beautiful locations. In November 2016, Harmony will arrive at her homeport of Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, FL., from where she will offer seven-night eastern and western Caribbean sailings. The newest member of the fleet will join sister-ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, sailing from Port Canaveral and Port Everglades respectively, on the east coast of Florida.

Carnival Vista Offers Nearly 30 Dining And Bar Venues
From authentic Asian delicacies and a New England–inspired seafood eatery to light bites with a Cuban flair, the new Carnival Vista offers an exciting and flavorful array of international dining choices.

The Chef's Table — This VIP experience starts with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres for an exclusive group of 14 guests, Complementing the delicious fare is a wide variety of bars, lounges and watering holes including the line's first on-board brewery.

With a comprehensive selection of eateries, Carnival Vista features several exclusive outlets that are only on board the line's newest, largest, and most innovative ship, including Seafood Shack, modeled after roadside seafood stands that dot the New England coast, and expanded versions of Bonsai Sushi and Cherry on Top offering both indoor and outdoor seating.

International flavors take center stage on Carnival Vista, taking guests on a culinary journey around the world. Ji Ji Asian Kitchen offers a taste of the Orient; BlueIguana Cantina features fresh Mexican cuisine and a tortilla-making machine; Cucina del Capitano brings the flavors of Italy on board; and Fahrenheit 555 is a classic American steakhouse.

Several bars also serve a light menu that perfectly pairs with a cocktail or brew. Havana Bar offers authentic Cuban pastries, sandwiches and other bites while guests at RedFrog Pub & Brewery can enjoy Caribbean-inspired pub fare like grouper fingers, Jamaican-style chicken wings and more, in addition to the three different craft beers brewed on board.

Dining venues and bars featured on Carnival Vista include:

• BlueIguana Cantina – Open for breakfast and lunch, BlueIguana Cantina serves authentic tacos on fresh-made tortillas and made-to-order burritos that can be personalized by diners at an extensive salsa and toppings bar.

• Bonsai Sushi — Bonsai Sushi has been expanded on Carnival Vista to offer cooked-to-order items like Shrimp Tempura, Chicken Katsu, Omakase (Chef's Choice) and various noodle bowls, complementing a variety of sushi, sashimi and bento boxes.

• Cherry on Top — For those with a sweet tooth, Cherry on Top serves up ingredients mixed by hand and made to order. Cool concoctions include a base of ice cream and at least four toppings, from whipped cream and hot fudge to Oreo cookie pieces and pineapple chunks. Additionally, when guests order Brownie Buoy – hand-selected by kids at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital – a donation is made to the hospital.

• Cucina del Capitano — A celebration of Carnival Cruise Line's deep roots in Italy — all of the fleet's captains are Italian — Cucina del Capitano serves up a variety of Italian favorites family-style.

• Fahrenheit 555 — This classic American steakhouse offers mouth-watering steaks and other gourmet fare with impeccable service.

• Guy's Burger Joint — A guest favorite, Guy's features fresh-made burgers, hand-cut fries and innovative toppings created in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri.

• Havana Bar — This popular bar specializing in mojitos and Cuba Libres has added a bar menu. From Sabor de Habana, a sampler plate, to ceviche de mariscos, ropa vieja and pan con bistec, guests can taste authentic dishes of Cuba.

• JavaBlue Café — Featuring coffee straight-up, or perhaps with an upgrade, JavaBlue Café serves hot and cold drinks with a fun twist. Guests also can enjoy sweet treats and comfort snacks.

• Ji Ji Asian Kitchen — Serving up enticing dishes in an eclectic space, Ji Ji brings not only great food, but good fortune to the table. Offering a full-service menu featuring a mix of exotic and familiar dishes designed to challenge and delight the senses, the venue offers a truly unique culinary experience.

• Pizzeria del Capitano — Pizzeria del Capitano offers five varieties of hand-tossed artisanal-style pizza, all available free of charge 24 hours a day.

• Lido Marketplace — A casual poolside eatery offering an array of international favorites, from paninis to comfort food to a New York-style deli and just about everything in between.

• Ocean Plaza — An indoor/outdoor café serving cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos as well as pastries and other confections.

• RedFrog Pub & Brewery — Delicious Caribbean bites are served here, but the star is the hand-crafted beer brewed on board in the line's first onboard brewery developed in collaboration with Miami-based Concrete Beach Brewery. The Caribbean-inspired brews include the aromatic and citrusy ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin' IPA, ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat spiced and unfiltered ale, and rich and creamy FriskyFrog Java Stout.

• Seafood Shack – A Carnival Vista exclusive, Seafood Shack features traditional fare like New England clam chowder, lobster rolls, crab cake sliders and fried clam strips served by the bucket, with steamed lobster, snow crab, peel-and-eat shrimp and raw oysters sold by the pound.

• Serenity — Salads, sandwiches, wraps and other light fare is available at the ship's exclusive adults-only retreat.

• Shake Spot — Shake Spot offers more than just your average shakes and floats. Guests can sip on hand-crafted classics, fruity-flavored treats and even spiked indulgences.

• The Chef's Table — This VIP experience starts with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres for an exclusive group of 14 guests, followed by a tour to see the galley in operation. The evening concludes with an impressive full-service dinner of appetizers, entrees and desserts not found on the regular menus, all hosted by one of the ship's master chefs.

• The Taste Bar — Offering complimentary bite-size preview offerings inspired by popular Carnival dining venues, along with a signature cocktail tied to the day's particular theme available for purchase.

• American Table/American Feast – Featuring extensive menus and wine lists in the Horizons and Reflections main dining rooms with a wide range of appetizers, side dishes, entrees and desserts, as well as shareable items for the table.

Carnival Vista debuted May 1 with a 13-day cruise departing from Trieste, Italy -- the first European voyage for Carnival in three years. A variety of spectacular Mediterranean itineraries will be offered with port calls throughout Italy, France, Spain and Croatia as well as several new destinations for Carnival such as Crete (Heraklion), and Corfu, Greece; Valletta, Malta; Palermo, Sicily; Cagliari, Sardinia; and Gibraltar.

On Oct. 21, 2016, Carnival Vista embarks on a special 13-day transatlantic crossing and arrives in New York Nov. 3, then operates a pair of 11-day voyages from the Big Apple before repositioning to Miami for year-round Caribbean departures later that month.

Celebrity Cruises Completes Celebrity Millennium Makeover
Movies viewed under the stars and paired with a specially curated menu of delectable food; freshly redecorated suites; a modernized, fully realized Italian steakhouse -- modern luxury vacationers need look no further than Celebrity Millennium to understand what all of these experiences have in common. This month, the 2,138-guest vessel will emerge from a drydock refresh reenergized and more luxurious than ever, with the same lineup of stunning enhancements that Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Infinity have received in recent months. Guests sailing on Celebrity Millennium in Alaska this summer will be among the first to enjoy her new spaces and experiences.

The new Rooftop Terrace includes a large screen, chaise longues, cabanas, soundscape and decorative lighting"We are beyond thrilled that Celebrity Millennium will soon be even more stunning than ever before as a result of the $8 million that we're investing in this drydock," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "We have added new elements and experiences that will help open up the world for modern luxury travelers, from our gorgeously updated Suite Class staterooms onboard to the amazingly delicious Tuscan Grille menu, and, of course, the new Rooftop Terrace."

The new Rooftop Terrace, complete with its large screen, chaise longues, cabanas, soundscape and decorative lighting, is a modern relaxing backdrop for Celebrity's sumptuous new multisensory experience, "A Taste of Film," which presents films that evoke a specific cultural, culinary or destination experience, paired with cuisine that brings the scenes on the screen to life through guests' taste buds. The cruise brand's culinary team, led by Michelin-starred chef Cornelius Gallagher, has specially crafted a multi-course tasting menu for each "A Taste of Film" selection. The Rooftop Terrace is on the ship's 12th deck.

Additional drydock enhancements will include significant renovations of the ship's Penthouse and Royal Suites. As part of the $8 million refresh plan, Celebrity is investing heavily in its Suite Class experience on Celebrity Millennium, as every Penthouse and Royal Suite will receive new glimmering fixtures, marble surfaces, and comfortable seats in the bathrooms. The rest of the suite will get refreshing touches like new carpeting, drapes, and bed linens.

Conversion of Celebrity Millennium's Olympic restaurant to Tuscan Grille, Celebrity's popular, Italian-inspired steakhouse that debuted on its Solstice Class ships, will include complete refinishing of the space and the introduction of a refreshed menu designed to tantalize, including fresh pasta made in-house; an Italian cocktail menu, a first for Tuscan Grille; a wine list focused on the wine-growing regions of Italy; and new foods like artisanal salumi and cheeses; crispy crab arancini with lemon pepper aioli; grilled branzino with spinach and olive oil; swordfish with Castelvetrano olives, fennel and white wine; and oven-roasted USDA Prime dry-aged steak.

On Celebrity Millennium, the maritime artifacts in the Olympic will be featured in a special display area in the casino's entry vestibule. Items include charts, maps, an original place setting, a ship model, and more.

Additional work taking place onboard will include:

• The addition of an enclosed portrait studio similar to that found on Celebrity's Solstice Class ships, Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Equinox

• The creation of a new future cruise sales office, where guests can take advantage of special offers

• A refresh of the Solarium, with new furniture, new floors, and refinished pool tops, and a refresh of finishes in the spa café

• The removal of the themed décor in the ship's casino

Celebrity Millenium entered drydock on April 26, 2016 and will emerge on May 12, 2016. This summer, Celebrity Millennium will sail a series of open-jaw itineraries between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seward, Alaska, before heading to Asia in September for her winter season there.

Fathom Adds Sailing Dates Through December 2017
Fathom, the pioneer in social impact travel today announced additional sailing dates, extending Fathom MV Adonia's stay in the Caribbean region through December 2017. The move comes as demand continues to grow for Fathom – a different kind of cruise that combines one's love of travel with the desire to make a difference in the world.

A classic American car serving as a taxi in Havana drives past Carnival Corporation's Fathom Adonia cruise ship"We have been humbled by the tremendous response Fathom has received from travelers eager to experience Fathom while helping the Dominican Republic to flourish and making history through human connections and immersive experiences in Cuba," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation. "Fathom resonates with travelers as the best way to travel with intention, to culturally immerse, to experience and to see more. For example, Fathom visits three incredible, diverse locations in Cuba during its itinerary while having the convenience of unpacking once and savoring the comforts of premium accommodations aboard the intimate, small-ship, MV Adonia – not to mention its excellent and diverse dining, service and onboard amenities."

According to Russell, Fathom also appeals to travelers as a meaningful way to experience personal growth while making purposeful and engaging contributions to the world, starting in the Dominican Republic. "There is genuine excitement about Fathom's ability to empower travelers to serve and immerse alongside locals in the Dominican Republic to create scalable and sustainable, transformative impact that will play an important role in helping the Caribbean region flourish," she said.

Fathom will depart on weekly seven-day voyages from PortMiami aboard the MV Adonia, a 704-passenger vessel redeployed from Carnival Corporation's P&O Cruises (UK) brand and ideal for delivering an intimate onboard experience. Dates for seven-day voyages departing on Sundays roundtrip from Miami during 2017 include the dates below. Fathom's reservations systems will be ready to take 2017 bookings by June 1, 2016.

Dominican Republic:
Dec. 4, Dec. 18, Jan. 1, Jan. 15, Jan. 29, Feb. 12, Feb. 26, March 12, March 26, April 9, April 23, May 7, May 21, June 4, June 18, July 2, July 16, July 30, Aug. 13, Aug. 27, Sept. 10, Sept. 24, Oct. 8, Oct. 22, Nov. 5, Nov. 19, Dec. 3, Dec. 17, Dec. 31

Cuba:
Nov. 27, Dec. 11, Dec. 25, Jan. 8, Jan. 22, Feb. 5, Feb. 19, March 5, March 19, April 2, April 16, April 30, May 14, May 28, June 11, June 25, July 9, July 23, Aug. 6, Aug. 20, Sept. 3, Sept. 17, Oct. 1, Oct. 15, Oct. 29, Nov. 12, Nov. 26, Dec. 10, Dec. 24

"The decision to add 2017 Fathom sailing dates underscores our enthusiasm for Fathom and our experience to date with the impact it is having," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "The feedback from travelers, travel professionals, community leaders and our own employees has been extremely positive. Our travelers and trade partners are asking for additional sailing dates – and we are happy to oblige."

Carnival Valor Undergoes Extensive Makeover That Adds A Variety Of Popular Dining And Bar Concepts
In preparation for its new year-round program of three- and four-day voyages from Port Canaveral kicking off later this year, Carnival Valor has undergone an extensive renovation that added a variety of popular dining and bar concepts, including Guy’s Burger Joint, RedFrog Pub, SkyBox Sports Bar, RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar and Alchemy Bar. The new spaces were added during a dry dock that began April 23 and ran through May 8, 2016.

Carnival Valor Undergoes Extensive Makeover That Adds A Variety Of Popular Dining And Bar Concepts“Carnival Valor offers a convenient and affordable choice from Port Canaveral, with a host of exciting new innovations as well as popular features like a reservations-only steakhouse and nearly 600 balcony staterooms – rare for a short cruise itinerary,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We’re sure our guests are going to love all the new features and our travel agent partners will appreciate this exciting new cruise vacation option departing from the Space Coast,” she added.

Carnival Valor is one of four ships that sail from Port Canaveral which is also home to Carnival Magic and Carnival Victory offering year-round departures, as well as Carnival Sunshine operating seasonal sailings. Together, these four ships will carry more than 650,000 guests a year – more than any other cruise operator.

New features being added to Carnival Valor include:

• Guy’s Burger Joint: a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries in an atmosphere that celebrates the chef’s California roots and love of car culture

• RedFrog Rum Bar: a poolside bar offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival’s own ThirstyFrog Red

• BlueIguana Tequila Bar: a fun and festive outdoor watering hole offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin’ by the pool

• BlueIguana Cantina: a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic, freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar

• RedFrog Pub: at this tropics-inspired watering hole, guests can enjoy the Caribbean’s best rums and beers – including, of course, Carnival’s own ThirstyFrog Red – while soaking up the distinct British-West-Indies-meets-Key-West ambiance

• Alchemy Bar: a vintage-themed cocktail “pharmacy” that’s the go-to spot for guests seeking a unique experience with mixologists who “prescribe” concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients or guests’ own custom-created cocktails

• SkyBox Sports Bar: a sports lovers’ paradise where guests can catch live sporting events and check out scores on the real-time 24/7 sports ticker

• Cherry On Top: the “sweetest spot on board” which celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more

Carnival Valor kicks off its year-round three- and four-day Bahamas cruise schedule from Port Canaveral Oct. 30, 2016. On this route, three-day cruises depart Thursdays and call at Nassau while four-day voyages depart Sundays and feature Nassau and Freeport.

Carnival Valor will also offer a series of three- to five-day cruises in May 2016, as well as a program of five- and eight-day departures through October 2016. The three- to five-day sailings will take place throughout May, visiting popular ports like Grand Turk, Amber Cove, Half Moon Cay, Nassau and Freeport. The ship will also offer a one-time six-day cruise departing May 15 featuring Nassau, Amber Cove and Grand Turk.

The five- to eight-day voyages will run June 4 to Sept. 30, 2016. Five-day cruises visit Nassau, Half Moon Cay and Freeport. Eight-day eastern Caribbean cruises call at Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts and St. Maarten and eight-day southern Caribbean sailings include Aruba, Grand Turk and Curaçao or Bonaire.

Financial Highlights
The Board of Directors of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) today declared a quarterly dividend of $0.375 per common share payable on June 13, 2016, to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 31, 2016.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.99 + 0.48%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 76.67 + 1.24%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.49 + 1.22%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.35 - 3.86%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which classic liner included among her amenities: 20 dog kennels - each carpeted with running water - and a replica New York City fire hydrant for her canine passengers?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which popular French liner of the 1950's started her career crossing the Atlantic for North German Lloyd Line?

Answer - The "Liberte" ex "Europa"
courtesy of WP Dreyer


Cruise News - May 9, 2016

Historic Cruise to Cuba a Step Back in Time; Sail Soon Before Island's Sweet Past is History
By Guest Contributor Sharon Kenny

This is not your father's Cuba. Oh wait, yes it is. At least for now. I spent last week on the Adonia, the first U.S. cruise ship to sail to Cuba from the U.S. in more than half a century, and while the cliché is true -- it is like stepping back in time -- even more overwhelming is the sense that this is all going to change. Fast.

Cuba is the largest Caribbean island, 1 ½ times longer than the state of Florida, and visiting three stops at opposite ends of the country would be difficult if not impossible in one week by car. Traveling by cruise ship was comfortable and easy. Immigration was simple, our passports already contained the required Cuban visas, arranged by our cruise line Fathom, one of Carnival Corporation's 10 cruise brands, and the first to receive approval from the U.S. and Cuba for travel to Cuba.

A classic American car serving as a taxi in Havana drives past Carnival Corporation's Fathom Adonia cruise shipWithin minutes of leaving Adonia, which carries only 704 passengers, we stepped onto the street in Havana to crowds of people cheering and waving to welcome us with shouts of "Welcome America!" and "We're so glad you're here!"

That first day in Havana was surreal, like I'd stepped onto the set of an old movie. Havana seems to have been frozen somewhere in the 1950s. Not painted, not repaired, not updated. The colonnaded city squares have gotten some fresh coats of paint, but following one of the narrow streets in any direction will lead you into a maze of what must have been a spectacularly beautiful city in the 1950s, but now in varying states of disrepair and slow rebuilding.

But the potential for what this city can be once again is staggering. Architectural beauty abounds in street after street of majestic arches that for now house maybe a small table of handmade crafts for sale, stately columned buildings painted in faded Caribbean colors, and elaborate iron-railed balconies hung with laundry. Havana is a big city, about two million people live here, and "the triumph of the revolution" as my young guide told me, which nationalized personal property, resulted in a jumble of new residents moving into what once were luxurious mansions and apartments.

The basic necessities we take for granted such as no air conditioning-- I was prepared for that in Havana. But no lighting? Almost all inside spaces are dark, often lit by a single hanging incandescent bulb. Maybe.

But for me, what was missing was the best of all: no smart phones, no blaring televisions or pre-recorded musical assaults. No one was staring into their computer screen or looking down at their phones. Groups of children played in the squares with a large empty plastic water bottle and sticks, not with their heads buried in tablets. People waiting for the bus were talking, and young people walked holding hands, not their phones.

The lack of internet and phone service – which has only recently become available in limited areas -- has kept Cubans engaged in the present. People everywhere were interacting with each other and with us, the new visitors from America. Live bands of acoustic guitars, a bass and a flute or bongos played in almost every bar, and I never saw a television used as background entertainment. The sound of live Cuban music was everywhere. And the smell of cigars. Not cigar smoke, just a background, pleasant undertone of cigars was everywhere.

The new rules for travel in Cuba mean freedom from rules in general. You can choose to stay with the daily tours included with your Fathom tour, or you can "self-certify" in advance and head out on your own all day or leave your tour whenever the mood strikes you to explore wherever you'd like.

Since you sleep each night in the comfort of the Fathom Adonia, finding a good hotel is not an issue, and you can even return to the ship for your meals if you want, though I found the Cuban food was generally very good. There are no McDonalds or Starbucks or large restaurants or stores of any kind in Old Town Havana, only paladares--privately-owned restaurants.

And there was very little to buy, even on Obispo, one of the main shopping streets. Small art galleries are sprinkled throughout the narrow streets or a few paintings and crafts hang on the outside of tiny stores -- probably because it's so dark inside! An antique and book market featured post-revolutionary books and fascinating small collectibles, particularly Soviet pins and other memorabilia. Prices were shockingly low and only Cuban currency was accepted or sometimes Euros, and no one took American money or credit cards.

My two days in Havana with Fathom gave me a quick overview of all this city has to offer. There is history -- castles and museums abound, and if you want to explore recent history, Revolutionary Square with images of Che Guevara and other revolutionary heroes and soaring marble towers is a must. Transportation around the city is easy, and lots of my fellow cruise ship passengers ended up leaving their tours early to hire one of the old American cars to drive them around the city.

But for me the highlight was exploring the character-filled bars that peeked out through doorways, in courtyards and on rooftops all over Old Town Havana. I ended each afternoon idling away a few hours exploring, talking with locals, and bar hopping, trying out daiquiris, mojitos and Cuba Libres, listening to one fabulous band after another until the draw of that next bar and that next band would pull me away.

Everywhere the Cuban people were sincere and welcoming, and they all seemed to have known that the American cruise ship was coming. "We've been waiting for you for so long," a young woman told me.

In the evening, the low lighting makes the streets of Havana even more romantic and mysterious, so an after dinner visit to the famous Tropicana is a dazzling and colorful surprise. This enormous outdoor variety show is part Las Vegas, part Godfather and all spectacle. Elaborately costumed dancers and singers perform on different stages throughout the outdoor venue, even into the audience, and a live orchestra surrounds you with a constant drumbeat of music. I was mesmerized from the moment I stepped onto the property.

This is the dazzling Cuban nightclub featured in the movie Godfather 2, but I didn't know the Tropicana really existed and I certainly never expected this glamorous side of Havana to have survived from those pre-Revolutionary days. But it does exist and thrives and it is not to be missed.

Our early evening sailaway from Havana was bittersweet and too soon coming but the harbor was once again lined with Cubans shouting and waving farewell. With the Fathom Adonia arriving every two weeks, I hope this will become a tradition.

Our second stop in Cuba was Cienfuegos, a small town on the southern coast with a beautiful square of French Colonial buildings. We walked the narrow streets to a theatre unchanged since the 19th Century where we listened to a choral group sing traditional Cuban and American songs. It was a quick change from the big city of Havana and a good transition to our next stop a day's sail away and a world away in attitude.

Santiago de Cuba is a long way from Havana and the mountainous terrain makes this a slow, difficult drive from the capital. Without a doubt, the best and most picturesque way to arrive here is to sail into the long, beautiful harbor by ship. Cuba's second largest city was the original capital and its harbor has been guarded by the imposing Castillo del Morro since the 17th century. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Castillo is a labyrinth of rooms and battlements with old cannons and anchors strewn about and not a guard in sight.

Santiago de Cuba's hilly narrow streets are lined with colorful wooden buildings and lots of the 1950s-era graphic signs have survived along the downtown streets. It seems a much more commercial city than Havana yet in other ways less modern. Unlike the horse-drawn carriages in Havana that seemed mainly for the tourists, the streets of Santiago de Cuba were filled with real working horse carts transporting people and cargo throughout the city streets. Vendors sold fresh vegetables from push carts, and there was more obvious poverty and panhandling.

The beautiful mountainous setting, the architecture and the more active atmosphere in Santiago de Cuba is completely different than Havana.

Visiting both cities, plus the much smaller Cienfuegos, as well as being able to see the beautiful coastline up close as we almost circumnavigated the island in a week, gave me a much more well-rounded view of Cuba.

This was not a trip to just another Caribbean island; it was a trip into a sweeter, pleasanter past before we became obsessed with technology. But with Americans now able to combine the slow joys of cruising with a more thorough exploration of this large, fascinating island just a one night sail from Miami, how long will this living cultural museum last? Who knows? Go now.

AIDA Cruises Welcomes AIDAprima to Fleet
AIDA Cruises officially welcomed its newest ship into the family over the weekend with the christening of AIDAprima, now the flagship vessel for the German-based brand of Carnival Corp.

AIDAprima made its debut with a spectacular light show and memorable naming ceremony witnessed in person by 1.6 million visitors at the 827th Hamburg Port Anniversary. AIDAprima launched as the corporation's most environmentally friendly ship and the first cruise ship in the world with a dual-fuel engine that can be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) while in port and at sea.

AIDAprima made its debut with a spectacular light show and memorable naming ceremony"The christening was an emotional moment for me – I'm very proud of our new ship," said Felix Eichhorn, president of AIDA Cruises. "With AIDAprima and the next three new ships to be built for our line, we are once again charting new territory in the tourism industry, and we will continue to drive growth in the German cruise market."

Several million people watched the festivities at the harbor, on television, online and on Facebook when the young actress Emma Schweiger christened the ship. A dazzling music and light show followed by brilliant fireworks turned the night sky over the Port of Hamburg's festival promenade into a glittering sea of color. AIDAprima was accompanied for the occasion by another member of the fleet, AIDAaura, which was also part of the christening ceremony.

"We are thrilled to officially welcome such a beautiful and technologically advanced ship to our fleet, and it was only fitting that AIDAprima's naming was celebrated with a show and ceremony as impressive as the ship itself," said Roger Frizzell, chief communications officer for Carnival Corporation. "This weekend marked another important milestone as we welcome four new ships to our fleet in 2016. Whether we are sailing our new or existing ships, our number one goal always remains the same – to do everything we can to make sure our guests have a great experience."

Carnival Corporation has now taken delivery of three new ships in 2016. In addition to AIDAprima, Carnival Cruise Line took delivery of its 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista on April 28, while Holland America Line celebrated the handover of its 2,650-passenger ms Koningsdam on April 2. The company is scheduled to receive its fourth new ship delivery of 2016 when the Seabourn Encore joins the fleet later this year. Including Seabourn's new Encore ship, Carnival Corporation has a total of 15 new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2016 and 2020.

To add to this past weekend's excitement, on Saturday AIDAprima successfully completed the full test run for its LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) operation, meaning the ship will be able to operate with the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel while in port – a first for the cruise industry and another positive outcome for the environment as running on LNG in port will lead to a reduction in emissions when the ship is docked.

Compared to the use of conventional marine diesel with 0.1 percent sulfur content, emissions and particle discharge will be significantly reduced by using LNG, and the emission of sulfur oxide and soot particles will be completely prevented. Nitrogen oxide emissions will be reduced by up to 80 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent.

"LNG is the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel, and with AIDAprima, we are the first cruise line in the world to supply a ship with low-emission LNG for operation in port," said Eichhorn. "We are once again proving that we are pioneers of innovation, and I am convinced that our path is a clear signal to the ports and LNG producers to invest in the necessary infrastructure."

Additionally, Carnival Corporation's four next-generation cruise ships for Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises set to be delivered in 2019 and 2020 will be the first in the industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), representing another major environmental breakthrough. Pioneering a new era in the use of sustainable fuels, these new ships will use LNG to generate 100 percent of the ship's power both in port and on the open sea – an industry-first innovation that will significantly reduce exhaust emissions to help protect the environment and support the company's aggressive sustainability goals.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Reports Financial Results for the First Quarter 2016
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.(together with NCL Corporation Ltd., “Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings”, “Norwegian” or the “Company,”) today reported financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2016, as well as provided guidance for the second quarter and full year 2016.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Reports Financial Results for the First Quarter 2016“We are pleased to report another quarter of solid financial performance and significant earnings growth driven primarily by strong pricing with robust demand in the Caribbean driving net yield growth above our expectations,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. “We are on track to reach our stated targets of $5.00 Adjusted EPS in 2017 and double-digit return on invested capital on an adjusted basis in 2016, growing to 14% by 2018. Our recent announcements regarding our China-dedicated ship, Norwegian Joy, have been extremely well-received in the Chinese market giving us strong momentum prior to the ship’s introduction in 2017,” continued Del Rio.

First Quarter 2016 Results
Net Income was $73.2 million, or $0.32 per share compared to a loss of ($21.5) million or ($0.10) per share in the prior year. The Company generated Adjusted Net Income of $86.7 million, or $0.38 per share compared to $62.6 million or $0.27 per share in the prior year. Adjusted EPS increased 41% over prior year, benefiting from solid Adjusted Net Yield performance as a result of strong pricing along with the earnings benefit from the Norwegian Escape which joined the fleet in October 2015.

Total Revenue for the Company increased 14.9% to $1.1 billion compared to $938.2 million in 2015. Adjusted Net Revenue in the period increased 15.1% to $838.7 million compared to $728.9 million in 2015, primarily as a result of the addition of Norwegian Escape. Adjusted Net Yield improved 3.6% on a Constant Currency basis (2.5% on an as reported basis), mainly due to higher pricing benefiting from strength in the Caribbean and strong onboard revenue. Gross Yield increased 2.4%.

Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day increased 1.5% on a Constant Currency basis (1.1% on an as reported basis), primarily due to an increase in marketing expense as well as two scheduled dry-docks in the quarter compared to the prior year which had one dry-dock in the period. Gross Cruise Costs per Capacity Day decreased 3.2%.

Fuel price per metric ton, net of hedges, decreased 16.7% to $438 from $526 in 2015. The Company reported fuel expense of $81.7 million, which excluded a loss of $5.2 million recorded in other income (expense), related to the ineffective portion of its fuel hedge portfolio due to market volatility.

Interest expense, net increased to $59.8 million from $51.0 million as a result of higher interest rates due to an increase in LIBOR rates as well as an increase in average debt balances outstanding primarily associated with the delivery of Norwegian Escape.

Other income (expense) of $2.8 million included a gain from the fair value increase related to a foreign exchange collar for the Seven Seas Explorer newbuild, partially offset by a $4.2 million loss on foreign currency exchange and the aforementioned loss on fuel hedges.

The Company repurchased approximately $50 million of the Company’s outstanding ordinary shares under its previously authorized three-year, $500 million share repurchase program. As of March 31, 2016, $264 million remained available for repurchases.

Sale of Hawaii Land-based Operations
In the first quarter of 2016, the Company executed an agreement to divest its interest in a certain land- based operation in Hawaii. The amount of the transaction is considered immaterial to the Company’s consolidated financial statements. The agreement is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of all required regulatory approvals. The sale is expected to be completed during 2016. The Company’s first quarter financial results include the results from this operation. For purposes of comparison to the guidance provided by the Company in its prior release, key operational metrics excluding the results of this operation are as follows:

Adjusted Net Yield growth on a Constant Currency basis would have been 3.9% compared to guidance of approximately 2.5% and 2.7% on an as reported basis (excluding the results of the aforementioned operation) compared to guidance of approximately 1.75%.?

Adjusted Net Cruise Costs Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day growth on a Constant Currency basis would have been 1.6% compared to guidance of approximately 2.0% and 1.3% on an as reported basis (excluding the results of the aforementioned operation) compared to guidance of approximately 1.75%.?

2016 Outlook
“Continued strong demand in the Caribbean, Alaska, Bermuda, and Hawaii is offsetting softness in Europe which comes mainly as a result of lower demand from North American consumers,” said Wendy Beck, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. “While this softness is tempering yield growth mainly in the second quarter, strong bookings and pricing in other core markets, as well as the addition of Seven Seas Explorer to our fleet, are contributing to strong yield performance in the back half of the year, keeping us on track to deliver expected earnings growth of approximately 30%,” continued Beck.?

Sirena joined the Oceania Cruises’ fleet in March and her first sailing commenced in late April following an extensive, multi-million dollar upgrade and refurbishment. Seven Seas Explorer, the first newbuild for Regent Seven Seas Cruises in over thirteen years, will join the fleet in the third quarter.

2016 Guidance and Sensitivities
In addition to announcing the results for the first quarter, the Company also provided guidance for the second quarter and full year 2016, along with accompanying sensitivities, which both exclude the results of the aforementioned land-based operation in Hawaii.

Viking Ocean Cruises Christens Second Ship In London
Last week in London Viking Ocean Cruises officially welcomed its second ship, Viking Sea, to its fleet during a celebration on the Thames River in Greenwich.

Though Viking's ocean ships are classified as "small ships" by Cruise Critic, the 930-guest, 47,800-ton Viking Sea is the largest ship ever launched in London. After passing through the Thames Barrier this morning, the ship received a warm welcome by 28 able sea men, who manned the yardarms of the Cutty Sark – the iconic 19th Century British clipper ship – and saluted Viking Sea as she arrived in Greenwich.

Viking Ocean Cruises Christens Viking Sea Ship In LondonToday is a proud day for our Viking family. London is one of my favorite cities, and Greenwich is a significant port for Viking. We look forward to bringing more guests here this spring and in future years," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "Our ships are built for exploration; they are vessels that help our guests spend more time immersed in and surrounded by their destination. With the arrival of our second ship – and with four more sister ships on the way – we are focused on introducing travelers to the Viking way of destination-centered cruising, a unique style that was inspired by our success on the rivers."

After arriving today in Greenwich, Viking Sea was positioned in the Thames River with decorated pontoons nearby to welcome guests for various shore excursions around the city. This evening onboard, as part of the ship's christening – or naming – ceremony, guests were treated to a concert from Norwegian soprano Sissel and The Olav's Choir. Guests also enjoyed a talk by Stein Olav Henrichsen, the director of Oslo's Munch Museum – as part of the official launch of Viking's exclusive new partnership with the museum that is designed to celebrate the life and artwork of Norway's most famous artist, Edvard Munch, with daily "Munch Moments," staged for guests each day in the ship's Atrium. D

uring Viking Sea's christening ceremony, Karine Hagen, Viking's senior vice president and daughter of Torstein Hagen, served as ceremonial godmother and offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing for Viking Sea – a naval tradition that dates back thousands of years. Widely recognized as the face of the brand in Viking's television ads and online cultural enrichment videos (www.exploringmore.com), Karine is responsible for infusing the company's itineraries with extraordinary experiences. She is also the author of the children's books, "The World of Finse" (www.finse.me), an educational series that showcases the adventures of Karine's yellow Labrador, Finse. The series is set largely along the global destinations and routes of Viking's cruises, and the books are sold onboard Viking's ships. As a response to guest requests, Finse also took part in today's christening events.

Several elements of the christening ceremony paid homage to the company's Norwegian heritage. Instead of champagne for the traditional bottle-breaking, Viking Sea was christened with a bottle of Gammel Opland aquavit, which hails from the same town in Norway where Torstein's mother and Karine's grandmother, Ragnhild – also lovingly known as "Mamsen" – was born. "Mamsen's," the Norwegian deli onboard Viking Sea, was also named after Ragnhild, and Gammel Opland was her favorite brand of aquavit. Additionally, in honor of the original Vikings who once explored the British Isles, a Viking battle axe was used to cut the cord for the aquavit christening. The particular broad axe used is a replica of an 11th-century Viking axe discovered in the 1920s when it was dredged from the bottom of the Thames River near the London Bridge. Following the christening and a fireworks show held in the middle of the Thames River, Viking Sea will set sail tomorrow for Bergen, and from there she will continue on to Oslo, Copenhagen, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm on the popular 15-day Viking Homelands itinerary.

Viking Sea's christening was the culmination of a maiden voyage that began April 3 when the ship set sail in the Mediterranean. Over the last month, she made stops in what will be regular ports, including Athens, Santorini, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Venice, Rome and Barcelona. Viking Sea will spend the summer sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic; she will call on Greenwich again in June as part of Viking's new Into the Midnight Sun itinerary that sails between London and Bergen and explores the northernmost reaches of Scandinavia and sails across the Arctic Circle.

Viking's ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 cabins and accommodate 930 passengers. Viking Sea is the second of six ocean cruise ships currently planned for the fleet. The third and fourth ships, Viking Sky and Viking Sun are under construction and will be delivered in early 2017 and late 2017, respectively. The two remaining yet-to-be-named ships will be delivered in 2018 and 2020. Viking's ocean fleet features understated elegance and modern Scandinavian design.

RCL To Sell a 51 Percent Stake in Pullmantur and CDF
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL or "Royal Caribbean") and Madrid-based private equity firm Springwater Capital ("Springwater") today announced an agreement to form a joint venture dedicated to bringing culturally authentic, best-in-class cruise experiences tailored to Spanish and French tourists through the management of the Pullmantur and Croisières de France ("CDF") cruise brands.

Pullmantur 's MS SovereignAs part of the terms of the agreement, RCL will sell a 51 percent stake in Pullmantur and CDF to Springwater. RCL will have a 49 percent stake, and retain full ownership of the ships and planes currently operated by Pullmantur and CDF, which will be leased into the joint venture. RCL will also provide marine operations services to Pullmantur and CDF through a management agreement.

This joint venture expands on the successful, pre-existing partnership between RCL and Springwater for the Wamos air transport, travel agency, and tour operation businesses. This investment also expands Springwater's existing tourism portfolio, which includes airline and travel agency investments in Spain, France and Portugal.

"Pullmantur and CDF have a long history of offering authentic, localized cruise vacations to their home markets," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean. "We look forward to the new focus that this joint venture with Springwater will bring to these companies as they seek to grow."

Fain added: "Given the signs of recovery we have seen in the Spanish economy, as well as increased interest in cruising from tourists in France, we think this is the right time to bring together the extensive experience of our deeply valued employees at Pullmantur and CDF with the local travel and tourism expertise of the Springwater team. Springwater's local management presence in Madrid, coupled with RCL's long-standing history in cruise operations, will provide the foundation for improved returns in the future."

Martin Gruschka, Chief Executive Officer of Springwater, added: "We are delighted to announce the joint venture with Royal Caribbean, and look forward to working with Pullmantur and CDF employees. The transaction leverages our firm's travel sector expertise, and will take advantage of Pullmantur and CDF's strong client and travel industry relationships in the Spanish and French markets. These relationships – paired with Royal Caribbean's cruise management – will create the foundation for a successful, long-term strategic partnership."

The joint venture is expected to be completed later this year, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. It is expected to result in an immaterial one-time gain, which will be excluded from RCL's key metrics. Given the markets in which Pullmantur operates, the transaction is expected to have partially offsetting impacts on yields and expenses. The amount of these impacts will depend on when regulatory approvals are received and the transaction closes, but the net effect on the company's 2016 bottom line is expected to be neutral to marginally positive.

New Carnival Vista Offers Huge Array Of Features And New Activities
The stunning new Carnival Vista, currently on its maiden voyage, features an unparalleled array of entertainment and adrenaline-inducing thrill experiences, including the cruise industry's first IMAX Theatre at sea, SkyRide, an open-air cycling experience suspended high above the ship's top deck, as well as a multi-sensory, 455-foot-long water tube slide called Kaleid-O-Slide. Additionally, spectacular new Playlist Productions shows and a number of exciting new activities are being introduced to provide an unprecedented variety of entertainment choices.

Carnival Vista also features a suspended 270-foot-long ropes course, an exhilarating, high speed Twister slide, an aqua spray park with a 300-gallon tipping bucket and a huge array of other outdoor and indoor entertainment options.

A guest prepares for an exhilarating ride down the Kaleid-O-Slide, a 455-foot-long tube slide on the new Carnival Vista Carnival is also introducing several new activities including the South Beach-inspired Serenity Nights, a Rock-N-Glow 80s Deck Party and an Island Deck Party as well as a murder mystery experience.

Entertainment offerings also include popular comedians at the Punchliner Comedy Club, family-favorite Hasbro, The Game Show, which is a live action game show incorporating popular Hasbro games, and Thrill Theater, among others.

"Carnival Vista is an absolute 'wow' in every respect and we have put together a line-up of entertainment, activities and experiences like nothing else at sea," said Sarah Beth Reno, vice president of entertainment for Carnival Cruise Line. "Our guests are going to love this ship and their biggest challenge will be trying to choose from among so many different things to do on board."

Carnival Vista houses the first IMAX Theatre at sea including a three-deck-high screen that offers an immersive cinema experience featuring the latest Hollywood blockbusters, family favorites and IMAX documentary content.

The 187-seat IMAX Theatre is part of the Carnival Multiplex, which also includes the Thrill Theater, a multi-dimensional experience where seats move back and forth and side to side and viewers are sprayed with water and bubbles to make them feel like they're part of the feature. Only available on Carnival Vista is Thrillogy, a scary-yet-fun multi-sensory horror movie experience within the Thrill Theater that is designed for guests 17 and older.

The cost for first-run movies in the IMAX Theatre is $12.95 for adults and $9.95 for children 12 and under and guests aged 55 and over. The cost for IMAX documentaries and Thrill Theater is $5.50 per person.

Carnival Vista will debut three new high-tech Playlist Productions shows that combine captivating live performances with spectacular LED staging and special effects to create evenings of unforgettable entertainment. The three shows include:

• Amor Cubano: A Caribbean Dance Romance, an exhilarating get-on-your-feet show that blends classic Latin songs with today's hits and features an authentic reproduction of Carnival Vista's Havana Bar. A seven-piece Cuban-inspired band performs songs by Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz and others amid a tropics-inspired backdrop of Cuba and Miami, the latter of which will be the ship's eventual year-round homeport.
• America Rocks!, a high-energy show featuring rock anthems by American artists like Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Styx and Kiss. The glow stick-waving audience cheers on a rockin' house band with sizzling guitars, pulsating drums and a horn section, evoking the feeling of classic rock concerts from bygone days.
• Flick: The Power of Motion Pictures, a celebration of filmmaking with some of the greatest anthems of all time showcasing songs from popular movies like Footloose, Dirty Dancing and others. The main character of the show, Flick, takes viewers on a magical journey through different genres of film with stunning theatrical illusions and show-stopping cinematic effects.

All three shows feature high-energy after parties in Carnival Vista's atrium, Havana Bar and other spaces where guests can dance and interact with the stars following the show.

A roster of popular comedians perform at the 385-seat Punchliner Comedy Club which offers family-friendly and adults-only shows and guests are the stars of Hasbro, The Game Show, which features larger-than-life adaptations of iconic Hasbro games.

At night, the ship's outdoor adults-only retreat is transformed into a South Beach-style club under the stars complete with spectacular lighting effects and a crowd-pleasing mix of popular music spun by one of Carnival's professionally-trained DJ's.

Already known for hosting the best deck parties at sea, the cruise line takes it to another level on Carnival Vista with the Rock-N-Glow 80s Deck Party where participants don day-glo and other attire from the 80s and dance the night away. A new Island Deck Party celebrates the fun and spirit of RedFrog and BlueIguana – the colorful namesake characters of Carnival Vista's poolside watering holes. In early summer, the Clue murder mystery experience will debut, as well.

Carnival Vista takes cruising to new heights – literally – with SkyRide, a first-of-its-kind aerial attraction where adventure seekers pedal hanging recumbent-like cycles at speeds of up to 18 miles an hour across an elevated 800-foot-long track. The ship also features Kaleid-O-Slide, a new inner-tube slide where riders zip down 455 feet of exhilarating corkscrew turns enhanced by music and stunning kaleidoscopic effects.

Carnival Vista debuted in Europe May 1, 2016, and will operate a summer schedule of Mediterranean cruises through October. Following a trans-Atlantic crossing, Carnival Vista will offer a pair of 11-day voyages from New York in November 2016 before repositioning to Miami for year-round Caribbean sailings later that month.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.75 + 0.44%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 75.73 - 3.80%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.46 - 1.99
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 49.25 - 1.16%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which popular French liner of the 1950's started her career crossing the Atlantic for North German Lloyd Line?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Today there is only one ocean-going vessel in the world that still carries the venerable title of Royal Mail Ship (RMS). In the past this title was held by many famous British passenger liners including Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary. Name this ship that is still operating today and the remote island she frequents.

Answer - The only ocean going vessel that still carries the RMS prefix is "RMS St. Helena". Commonly referred to simply as "The RMS", she travels regularly between the UK, the South Atlantic island of St. Helena and Cape Town. Once a year she also makes a call at the isolated island of Tristan da Cunha. At Approximately 6800 gross tons in size, she can carry up to 128 passengers.

Built specifically for the St. Helena trade, she is the second ship to bear the name and replaced the original RMS St. Helena (ex- Northland Prince) in the early 1990's. The former RMS had been pressed into service after the withdrawl of the Union Castle mail ships in 1977 had left the island of St. Helena isolated.
courtesy of Brian O'Leary, Pointe-Claire QC Canada


Cruise News - May 2, 2016

Fathom's MV Adonia Arrives in Havana to Complete Historic Voyage from U.S. to Cuba
Fathom's MV Adonia sailed into Havana this morning completing the first leg of its historic inaugural voyage to Cuba that began on May 1, 2016, from Miami. The arrival made history today with its arrival into Havana, marking the first time in over 50 years that a U.S. cruise line has sailed from the U.S. to Cuba. It is also the first time in decades that Cuban-born individuals have been able to travel by sea to or from Cuba.

Fathom's MV Adonia Arrives in Havana to Complete Historic Voyage from U.S. to CubaFathom travelers were greeted by fanfare and a festive celebration as they arrived in the Port of Havana, the first of three destinations that guests will visit as part of the brand's exclusive seven-night voyages to Cuba. Following this week's inaugural trip to Cuba, Fathom's 704-passenger Adonia luxury cruise ship will begin operating its weeklong itineraries to Cuba every other week.

"Our arrival today in Havana is a special moment in history that contributes to a more positive future, and we congratulate our colleague Arnie Perez on being the first person born in Cuba to step ashore under Cuba's new policy," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "We are so honored that Carnival Corporation and our Fathom brand can be part of such a meaningful milestone. As we worked to become the first U.S. cruise company to sail from the U.S. to Cuba in more than five decades, it was clear just how much interest there is from travelers who want to experience Cuba. We believe there is no better way to experience Cuba and see this beautiful island than to cruise with us on Fathom, and we look forward to providing a very special and rewarding experience to everyone who sails with us."

"We are extremely excited and very humbled by this historic opportunity to give Fathom travelers an exclusive chance to experience Cuba, which is a unique destination unlike anywhere else in the world," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation.

Russell added: "Our guests are now able to visit three beautiful destinations on the island all in one week, with the convenience of only having to unpack once while we sail on the Fathom Adonia, our premium small ship with its excellent and diverse dining, service and accommodations. Cuba is a beautiful island with great people and a rich history and culture, and we are so excited we are the first U.S. cruise line that will be giving travelers the opportunity to enjoy Cuba with all the comforts and convenience of being on board our ship. We look forward to making sure our guests have an extraordinary experience."

During each sailing, Fathom will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, three ports of call for which Carnival Corporation has obtained berthing approval.

As part of this historic sailing in this inaugural year, travelers will enjoy an exciting Cuban experience and will sail aboard Adonia, a premium small ship where they can choose to partake in onboard experiences, including Cuban- and Caribbean-inspired food and films, music and dancing, and much more.

Special onboard programming will include a wide variety of activities covering an array of interests, ranging from an orientation of Cuba's history, customs and culture, to geographic-inspired entertainment, to casual and fun personal enrichment activities, along with conversational Spanish lessons.

Seven-day itineraries on Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand will generally depart from PortMiami on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). The ship will arrive at its first destination, Havana, the following morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. ET. The Adonia returns to its homeport, PortMiami, at 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday. news_cc_vista.jpg

Carnival Cruise Line Takes Delivery Of New 133,500-Ton Carnival Vista
At a traditional maritime handover ceremony held earlier today at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, Carnival Cruise Line took delivery of its newest, largest and most innovative ship, the 133,500-ton Carnival Vista.

Carnival Cruise Line Takes Delivery Of New 133,500-Ton Carnival VistaThe 3,954-passenger ship will reposition to Trieste, Italy, where it will depart on its maiden voyage May 1, kicking off a summer schedule in Europe that runs through October 2016. Following a 13-day trans-Atlantic crossing, Carnival Vista will operate a pair of 11-day cruises from New York in November 2016 then launch year-round Caribbean service from Miami later that month.

Carnival Vista offers a number of unique features, including a groundbreaking suspended cycling experience called SkyRide, the first IMAX Theatre at sea and the RedFrog Pub & Brewery offering three different kinds of beer brewed on board.

Also new is Family Harbor with special family accommodations and a family concierge, along with the tropics-inspired Havana staterooms and suites featuring a dedicated pool area. The ship's outdoor spaces include a massive WaterWorks aqua park, highlighted by the 455-foot-long Kaleid-o-slide, the longest slide in the fleet.

"Carnival Vista is a spectacular addition to our fleet and we can't wait for our guests to experience all of the ship's exciting new features," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "Carnival Vista will provide our guests an opportunity to create a lifetime of wonderful vacation memories while offering our valued travel agent partners another exciting vacation option to market to their clients," she added.

Princess Cruises Unveils New Club Class Mini-Suite Stateroom Category
Princess Cruises' guests can choose a new premium stateroom category featuring VIP amenities and exclusive dining with the new Club Class Mini-Suite. This elevated mini-suite category features select perks including new Club Class Dining, a reserved dining area with expedited seating and expanded menu options; priority embarkation and disembarkation; and Club Class guests will be among the first to sleep on the new Princess Luxury Bed.

Princess Cruises Unveils New Club Class Mini-Suite Stateroom CategoryDebuting on select ships beginning in December 2016, Club Class Mini-Suites will roll out through the fall of 2017 in association with the cruise line's "Come Back New Promise," which is delivering guests a premium cruise vacation enhanced by innovative and desirable product enhancements.

"Club Class Mini-Suites provide Princess guests yet another elevated product enhancement to enjoy during their cruise vacation," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "The VIP perks, including the new Club Class Dining, offers a premium and memorable onboard experience so our guests can completely relax, unwind and immerse themselves in worldwide destinations and ultimately 'come back new.'"

Club Class Dining - Offering guests more convenience and tempting fares, Club Class Dining includes:

• Dedicated area of the Main Dining Room with expedited seating
• Dedicated wait staff and uniquely-styled table décor
• Exclusive menu options with daily chef's special and table-side preparations
• Open every evening for dinner and for breakfast and lunch on sea days

Upgraded Amenities & Services - Club Class Mini-Suite guests will also enjoy the following additional VIP perks:

• The Princess Luxury Bed – Club Class guests will be among the first to experience the "Ultimate Sleep at Sea," in the new bed designed in collaboration with board certified sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus and renowned HGTV Designer Candice Olson
• Priority check-in and boarding at the beginning of the cruise and priority disembarkation at the end of the cruise
• One-time complimentary wine set-up on embarkation day (1/2 bottle of red and white)
• Evening canapés (upon request)
• Luxurious terry shawl bathrobes

Full Suite guests will also enjoy all the benefits of Club Class Mini-Suites including Club Class Dining, and be among the first to experience the new Princess Luxury Bed, in addition to the many other amenities offered with a Full Suite. In addition to Club Class Dining and upgraded amenities and services, Club Class Mini-Suites include all of the standard mini-suite benefits featuring spacious staterooms, up to 323 square feet with balcony, separate seating area with sofa bed and coffee table, bathroom with combination tub and shower and a welcome glass of champagne, among others.

World's Best Cruise Destinations?
Cruise ship captains travel the world, from sea to shining sea. So asking which is their favorite destination is like asking an artist to name a favorite creation or asking a parent to name a favorite child.

Still, ship masters repeatedly visit ports of call, becoming familiar with not only the local waters but also with spectacular sights that can be seen from the ship as well as the culture and lifestyles they and their passengers experience on land.

With that in mind, here are 10 Captains' Favorite cruise destinations.

French Polynesia
Captain Mariano Manfuso, Island Princess, Princess Cruises

"If I close my eyes, I can still remember the extraordinary sunsets of French Polynesia. Visiting these islands is a unique experience. The lure is not only the friendly Polynesian people but also the atmosphere, from the warmth of the air scented with tropical flowers to the romantic sunsets that indicate the end of another extraordinary day in these marvelous islands."

Captain's tip: "Bora Bora is the perfect place for diving and water safaris, an enchanting geological phenomenon."

Sydney, Australia
Captain Dino Sagani, Golden Princess, Princess Cruises

"The way from the sea into Sydney Harbour is second to none – the white surf breaking onto the rocky Heads that mark the entrance, a natural welcome to the beautiful waters. When making the final approach to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, the beautiful Sydney Opera House on the Port Side and the majestic Harbour Bridge on the Starboard Side, it is just the perfect place. You dock in the middle of these two iconic monuments of such an amazing city."

Captain's tip: "It's an easy 15-minute walk east of the terminal to the quiet glory of the Royal Botanic Gardens."

Indonesia
Captain Hans Mateboer, Rotterdam, Holland America Line

"When I first went to sea, I sailed for one of those old and famous shipping lines on a regular run to Indonesia and other places in the Far East. I find myself now on the Rotterdam, after 30 years, going back to the same places. Much has changed but also a lot has stayed the same. Indonesia is a country which has a special place in my heart."

Captain's tip: "An unexplainable adventure there is the sunset. Seeing this huge warmth-generating star touch the horizon and seemingly stay there for a while, then disappear too soon, is a wonder that is unbelievably grand in its simplicity."

Fort de France, Martinique
Captain Ignazio Giardina, Costa Favolosa, Costa Cruises

"Cruising in the Caribbean, Fort de France in Martinique is my favorite port, a relaxed and friendly place where you can experience the kindness and culture of the Creole people in a gorgeous and natural setting. The climate, food and the zouk (folk music) are all amazing."

Captain's tip: "There are many opportunities for water sports. I've personally enjoyed the ship's excursions for snorkeling, diving, sailing and fishing – all delightful."

Manaus, Brazil
Captain David Pembridge, Britannia, P&O Cruises UK

"Requiring a passage of some 800 miles up the Amazon River, reaching Manaus is an adventure in itself. The ship transits mysterious channels, passes islands that move and crosses areas that are actually shown as land on navigational charts, which takes some getting used to if you've spent your life avoiding charted land. There are villages where the local population is more interested and entertained by you than you are with them. And then you arrive at this bustling city of 2 million in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest."

Captain's tip: "Dressing in formal attire and attending a champagne reception and performance at the historic Opera House in this remote city is an amazing and memorable experience."

Panama Canal
Captain Peter Philpott, Aurora, P&O Cruises, UK

Cruise ship captains and their guests get a front row seat to amazing destinations including the Panama Canal"The Panama Canal resonates with me for the fact it was constructed in the first years of the 20th century, and completed in 1914, yet today's larger ships can still pass through the famous locks. When we sail through the steep-sided Gaillard Cut section of the canal, one cannot but think with awe of the vast numbers of canal construction workers who lost their lives in the jungle in order to complete this Wonder of the World, connecting two oceans, which forever changed the face of the shipping industry."

Captain's tip: "Plan to spend time observing during the 10-hour passage as your ship is raised and lowered. You'll at times be just inches from the canal's side, the green jungle beyond."

Grand Turk
Captain Claudio Cupisti, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Cruise Line

"Try to imagine an intimate, authentic Caribbean island, with a small and colorful downtown and a laidback but welcoming atmosphere. Try to envision perfect crystal clear water and white sand beaches just a step away from the ship. This is an island where I de-stress and get in touch with my true soul."

Captain's tip: "There adventures including scuba diving (my favorite activity), helicopter and boat rides and swimming with sharks. You can also just relax on the beach by walking away from the pier area and following the coastline in any direction."

Hamburg, Germany
Captain Nico Berg, AIDAStella, Germany's AIDA Cruises

"There's nothing nicer than traveling up the Elbe in the morning and entering Hamburg Port. In summer months, when the ship is just in front of the curve of the harbor piers (Landungsbrücken), the sun usually rises behind historic Hamburg Michel (church) and the view is just amazing. Although I'm at home all over the world as a seafarer, Hamburg always gives me a feeling of coming home. When our ship leaves Hamburg Port, tourists stand along the Elbe and excitedly wave at us."

Captain's tip: "I would recommend taking a small barge through the Speicherstadt (the historic canals of the largest warehouse district in the world)."

Brisbane, Australia
Captain Colm Ryan, Pacific Aria, P&O Cruises Australia "When we arrive here it is an early morning for me, as I have to attend to navigation through Moreton Bay before reaching the Brisbane River. There is not much that beats this transit. It is usually quiet as not many boaters are out at that time of the morning. In the summer as the sun rises, it highlights the skyscrapers of the city, seemingly announcing that you are entering and welcome to a modern and vibrant Brisbane."

Captain's tip: "Brisbane is easy to walk around with many areas dedicated to pedestrians and particularly friendly locals. You'll find a wealth of restaurants and nightlife on the South Bank of the Brisbane River."

New York
Captain Marc-Dominique Tidow, AIDALuna, AIDA Cruises

"Arriving in New York with the ship early in the morning will never become routine for me. As we approach our destination, still relatively far out at sea, our ship passes Long Island. It's still dark when we pass the second highlight, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the huge bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island. Then we pass the Statue of Liberty on our way into the harbor. But most beautiful of all is when you pass the Hudson side of New York, with the sun rising behind the city. From the height of the ship you can look down into the individual streets of New York."

Captain's tip: "Be up at 5 a.m., standing on the railing with a cup of coffee and watch as the ship approaches Manhattan. It's something everyone needs to experience for themselves."

Viking Announces World Cruise For Fourth Ship
With just days before its second ship, Viking Sea, is christened in Greenwich on the Thames River in London on May 5, Viking Ocean Cruises today announced that its fourth ship, Viking Sun, will spend her maiden season sailing the company's first-ever World Cruise, spanning 141 days and visiting five continents, 35 countries and 66 ports, with 12 port overnights.

Departing on December 15, 2017, this epic journey from Miami to London will allow guests to explore Cuba and the Caribbean; sail the Panama Canal and the South Pacific; call upon ports in Asia, from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City; and see the Arabian, Red and Mediterranean Seas, before concluding in the North Atlantic. Like on all Viking itineraries, World Cruise guests will enjoy a complimentary shore excursion in each of the 66 ports and free unlimited Wi-Fi; they will also receive Business Class airfare and all gratuities and service fees, along with an extensive list of added-value inclusions in their cruise fare.

Viking Announces World Cruise For Fourth Ship"Ever since our first ship set sail last year, we have been focused on bringing the destination back to ocean cruising. Our unique, award-winning approach allows our guests to explore comfortably, with experiences that enrich their lives along the way," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "This World Cruise is the most extensive and culturally immersive itinerary we have ever offered, and we are pleased by the early interest in pre-sales we have seen from our guests and industry partners."

Viking's first-ever World Cruise visits dozens of legendary cities, charming ports and idyllic islands in one seamless itinerary. Guests will immerse themselves in the world's rich cultures during included excursions that provide unmatched insight into daily life, as well as Privileged Access visits to cultural institutions. Overnight stays in 12 cities allow World Cruise guests to delve deeper into the destination; and Viking's Culture Curriculum offers additional enrichment through onboard lectures and entertainment. Guests may choose the 141-day cruise from Miami to London, which includes 21 days of sailing from Miami to Los Angeles; or they may also choose to cruise from Los Angeles to London, a 120-day itinerary. Full details on the World Cruise can be found on Viking's website here; highlights include:

• Havana's Authentic Old Town—Guests will spend two days in Havana, engaging in authentic experiences with the Cuban people – from hearing a local jazz ensemble to visiting an artist's studio – and exploring the city's neoclassical, baroque and colonial architecture.
• The Path Between the Seas—Forty-eight miles long, the Panama Canal links the Atlantic and Pacific at the narrowest stretch of the Isthmus of Panama, cutting thousands of miles off shipping routes. Crossing this manmade wonder, Viking Sea will be raised and lowered through enormous locks at each end.
• Papeete, Tahiti: Gaugin's Paradise—One of the world's most visually stunning and romantic destinations, Tahiti is the cultural hub of French Polynesia. Guests will enjoy an overnight stay in Papeete, letting them immerse themselves in its continental flavor.
• Auckland, City of Two Harbors—During an overnight stay in New Zealand's "City of Sails," guests will have ample time to take in Auckland's stunning setting between two harbors.
• Shanghai, Astonishing Blend of Old and New—One of the world's most important ports, Shanghai is a modern metropolis and center of finance. An overnight stay allows time for guests to explore its famous and historic Bund, the elegant riverfront promenade, or stroll the inviting grounds of the dynastic Yuyuan Garden.
• Sydney: Cultural Capital of "Oz"—Guests will have the opportunity to sail into Sydney's magnificent harbor, the world's largest, and an overnight stay gives the opportunity to admire the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens and The Rocks district of shops and markets.
• Bangkok, Siam of Old—From Viking's overnight port in Laem Chabang, guests will have ample time to discover Bangkok's revered temples (or wats) and traditional floating markets, as well as to tour the elegant buildings of the renowned Grand Palace, long home to the kings of Siam.
• Singapore, Bustling Island Nation—Spread across 63 islands at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore is the world's only island city-state. An overnight stay here allows guests to take in its sophisticated wonders, including the stunning National Orchid Garden.
• Medieval Malta—Long a crossroads for trade between Africa and Europe, the island of Malta has been shaped by generations of rich history and influence. Guests can take in the medieval ambience of Valletta and Mdina and enjoy the stunning coast that is dotted with iuzzu fishing boats, blue grottoes and sweeping bays.
• Greenwich: London at your Door—The celebrated historic Royal Borough of Greenwich, on the Thames River, is Viking's docking location in London, providing guests with easy access to the regal capital's iconic sights, including Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and St. Paul's Cathedral.

Viking's ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 cabins and accommodate 930 passengers. Viking Sun will be the company's fourth ship in the fleet and will be delivered in late 2017; the two remaining yet-to-be-named ships will be delivered in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

ms Nieuw Amsterdam Kicks Off Seattle's Alaska Cruise Season
Holland America Line's ms Nieuw Amsterdam arrived at the Port of Seattle today, Friday, April 29, 2016, marking the start of the city's summer Alaska homeport cruise season. The line increased its Seattle calls this year to 55, and three Holland America Line ships will sail roundtrip Seattle routes in 2016: ms Westerdam arrives Saturday, May 7; ms Amsterdam arrives Sunday, May 22; and ms Maasdam arrives Monday, May 23, to begin their Alaska sailings from Seattle. New to Alaska cruising, Nieuw Amsterdam's arrival at Seattle is the start of a one-day cruise to Vancouver, British Columbia, to reposition to its summer homeport.

ms Nieuw Amsterdam Kicks Off Seattle's Alaska Cruise Season In addition to the 48 roundtrip Seattle cruises to Alaska this season, three cruises to Australia/New Zealand or Hawaii/South Pacific will begin or end at Seattle, including Amsterdam's 53-day Tales of the South Pacific voyage and Maasdam's 23-day South Pacific Crossing. All of the options combined make a total of 55 calls by five ships -- ms Zaandam makes one Seattle call -- that will welcome more than 86,000 guests to Seattle.

"As Seattle's hometown cruise line it's fitting that one of our ships is kicking off the city's Alaska season, a time we eagerly anticipate each year," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "Holland America Line is headquartered in Seattle, and we take great pride in being a significant contributor to the local economy and in actively giving back to our community."

In the coming year, Holland America Line expects to contribute $389 million to the Seattle economy and $547 million across Washington State. The cruise line employs 1,170 people at its Elliott Avenue headquarters in Seattle.

Provisioning costs each time a ship calls at Seattle average about $300,000 per visit. Holland America Line works with more than 600 Washington vendors, from food and beverage suppliers to piano tuners, office supply stores and marine suppliers, among many more. For example, Westerdam requires over 23,000 eggs and 1,375 gallons of milk each week -- all of which come from local farmers. In addition, local growers supply 147,550 pounds of fresh produce a week.

Also contributing to Holland America Line's economic impact is spending by passengers and crew in local shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, museums, attractions and taxis. Other expenditures include ship maintenance and port fees, charges and taxes.

Holland America Line ships have been sailing from the Port of Seattle since the 1970s. In May 2002, Holland America Line began using Seattle as a home port for Alaska cruises.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.53 + 0.59%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 78.72 + 4.96%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.51 - 4.56
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 48.93 + 1.05%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Today there is only one ocean-going vessel in the world that still carries the venerable title of Royal Mail Ship (RMS). In the past this title was held by many famous British passenger liners including Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary. Name this ship that is still operating today and the remote island she frequents.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which current cruise line established its own training school for on board crew in Bintang, Indonesia in 1969?

Answer - Holland America Line established a crew training facility in Indonesia
courtesy of Peter Drinan, Australia


Cruise News - April 25, 2016

Fathom's MV Adonia to Sail to Cuba with All Travelers, Including Cuban-Born Passengers
Carnival Corporation today announced it will sail as planned from the U.S. to Cuba with all travelers, including Cuba-born passengers, for the company's week-long voyages to Cuba. Carnival Corporation worked closely with Cuba to allow its cruise ships to operate in a similar manner as current air charter operations to Cuba, starting with its historic inaugural voyage on May 1, 2016.

Carnival Corp. Now Accepting Bookings for Cuba Voyages on Its Fathom BrandFathom will begin sailing its 704-passenger Adonia luxury cruise ship to Cuba every otherLast week, in anticipation of this positive outcome, Carnival Corporation announced its new Fathom brand was accepting bookings to Cuba from all travelers, including individuals born in Cuba. Fathom's 704-passenger Adonia luxury cruise ship will begin sailing to Cuba every other week, marking the first time in over 50 years that a cruise ship has been able to sail from the U.S. to Cuba, as well as the first time in decades that Cuban-born individuals will be able to sail to and from Cuba.

"We made history in March, and we are a part of making history again today," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "More importantly, we are contributing to a positive future. This is a positive outcome and we are extremely pleased. We want to extend our sincere appreciation to Cuba and to our team who worked so hard to help make this happen."

"We have already seen tremendous interest in the incredible Cuba journey we have put together, and we are ecstatic that this historic opportunity is open to everyone who wants to travel to Cuba," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation.

Russell added: "Our guests will visit three beautiful and unique destinations on the island all in one week, with the convenience of only having to unpack once while we sail on the Fathom Adonia, our premium small ship with its excellent and diverse dining, service and accommodations. We are looking forward to treating Fathom travelers to an unforgettable experience."

Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand and its voyages to three ports of call in Cuba

During each sailing, Fathom will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, three ports of call for which Carnival Corporation has obtained berthing approval.

As part of this historic sailing in this inaugural year, travelers will enjoy an exciting Cuban experience and will sail aboard the Adonia, where they can choose to partake in onboard experiences, including Cuban- and Caribbean-inspired food and films, music and dancing, and much more.

Special onboard programming will include a wide variety of activities covering an array of interests, ranging from an orientation of Cuba's history, customs and culture, to geographic-inspired entertainment, to casual and fun personal enrichment activities, along with conversational Spanish lessons.

Seven-day itineraries on Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand depart from PortMiami on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). The ship will arrive at its first destination, Havana, the following morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. ET. The Adonia returns to its homeport, PortMiami, at 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Historic Queen Mary In Long Beach, California Gears Up For Transformation Of A Lifetime
A new future is about to be written for the iconic Queen Mary docked in the Long Beach Harbor. City officials announced today that the master lease for the retired cruise ship and ever-popular tourist attraction has been formally transferred to Los Angeles-based real estate investment and development firm Urban Commons. Assuming a 66-year master lease of the ship, Urban Commons will create a bustling retail, dining and entertainment district surrounding the Queen Mary for locals and tourists alike, while infusing contemporary influences onboard the ship to return the Queen to her glory days.

Historic Queen Mary In Long Beach, California Gears Up For Transformation Of A Lifetime "The debut of the new Queen Mary will bring to life an energetic destination that draws visitors in from near and far, rivaling major attractions in premier cities around the globe," said Taylor Woods, Principal of Urban Commons. "We see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to help shape the future of a storied landmark, and Urban Commons is honored to have a hand in this transformation."

Urban Commons will implement a phased approach to their all-encompassing renovation over the next several years, with upgrades within the ship beginning immediately. Modern details with a nod to the past will be infused throughout the interior of the ship from guestrooms to restaurant spaces, ultimately channeling a new aura of regal elegance while maintaining the ship's cherished historic elements. The Queen Mary is slated to debut her enhancements to the public in mid-2017, and will remain fully open to visitors and hotel guests during the renovation process. Within the second phase, a must-visit mix of retail, dining and entertainment options will take shape on the 45 acres of currently underutilized oceanfront land adjacent to the ship.

"The Urban Commons team has demonstrated true commitment and a real passion for breathing new life into this iconic landmark, which will highlight Long Beach as a premier destination on the West Coast," said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. "From the expansion of the Aquarium to the multimillion dollar investment in the Queen Mary, Long Beach is experiencing a true renaissance, and we are proud to have Urban Commons in our corner."

"Now is an opportune time for us to move forward with an extensive plan to reinvigorate the underutilized Queen Mary site, and to create something truly unique with the Urban Commons team," said Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal. "We are thrilled to have Urban Commons onboard as a collaborative partner to initiate improvements that will bring even more value to a one-of-a-kind landmark in the heart of our City."

Urban Commons will work in tandem with the City of Long Beach, the Queen Mary Land Development Task Force and the wider community on the review and approval process for the build out of the 45 acres surrounding the ship. Further details about the plans for the Queen Mary and adjacent land will be shared as they become available.

The master lease was previously held by Garrison Investment Group, LLC. In full recognition of the Queen Mary's successful evolution over the past several years, Urban Commons intends to continue the ship's wildly popular Dark Harbor and CHILL events held annually and will work closely with Carnival Cruise Line to enhance the existing terminal.

Fathom Makes Inaugural Voyage to Dominican Republic
Fathom, the pioneer in social impact travel and Carnival Corporation's 10th and newest brand, returned from its inaugural voyage to its impact destination, the Dominican Republic, on Sunday, April 24. Fathom's inaugural voyage was a major success as hundreds of guests joined Fathom for a unique weeklong journey that left a lasting impact on each of them, as well as an immediate impact on people in need in the Dominican Republic.

Poured concrete floors for two homes directly positively effecting 20 people"Feedback from our guests during the voyage was extremely positive," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation. "This first voyage provided more evidence there is a growing market of guests who want to make a positive, direct impact when traveling. Fathom gave our guests a unique way to leave an impression on a very personal level within the community, as well as have an extraordinarily rewarding experience."

Launched in June 2015, Fathom provides the opportunity to travel with like-minded people, become immersed in another culture and work alongside its people to create enduring social impact. What sets Fathom apart is the long-term, systematic partnership approach and unique business model of traveling every other week to the Dominican Republic – a combination that creates sustained and lasting impact.

"Our brand has been on an incredible journey, from the idea's conception over two years ago through today," said Russell. "We set out to do something special with Fathom by introducing the world to a unique type of travel – travel with purpose. I want to personally thank everyone who stood alongside Fathom, and had a hand in getting us to where we are today. Without your support, we would not be where we are today."

Fathom selected the Dominican Republic as its first impact destination, as it is a country of great beauty and rich culture but also a country with great needs. The average household income is less than $6,000 and more than 3 million Dominicans do not have access to piped water. Yet the country has much potential – its natural resources are plentiful, it has a good infrastructure that can allow for positive impact, and its people are motivated to create better lives for them and their families.

Impact activities in the Dominican Republic include a wide range of projects focused on economic development, education and the environment. During the inaugural voyage, guests, depending on their individual passions and skills, participated in projects they felt most strongly about, and worked directly alongside local people and Fathom's partner organizations.

"We have already accomplished a lot in a short period of time – but there is still much to do," added Russell. "While we celebrated and introduced the unique Fathom experience to our guests last week, we are looking forward to taking our guests every other week to the Dominican to continue making a profound and lasting impact for people in the country."

When not participating in social impact projects, Fathom guests experienced fun and memorable recreational, leisure and sightseeing activities in the Dominican Republic. Whether exploring ancient ruins, interacting with the abundant marine life in the clear water, or lounging along the sun-soaked stretches of surf and sand, guests made the most of their experiences in the Dominican Republic.

The MV Adonia docked at Carnival Corporation's newest port Amber Cove, located in the Puerto Plata region, where guests had access to select shore excursions. The port offers numerous sea and landside experiences, including several beach getaways, kayak, paddle board and snorkeling tours, ATV-like terracross buggy expeditions, Puerto Plata tours, helicopter rides, fishing trips, horseback riding, deep sea fishing tours and catamaran sailings.

Guests discovered that impact travel is far more than a seven-day experience. On the return trip, Fathom helped guests with ways they can stay involved by bringing the knowledge, inspiration and insight back to their home communities.

Port Canaveral Welcomes Carnival Magic
Carnival Cruise Line and the Canaveral Port Authority hosted a special event earlier today to celebrate the arrival of the Space Coast’s newest ship, the 130,000-ton Carnival Magic, and mark the official grand opening of the ship’s new Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse designed by Food Network star Guy Fieri.

The event was highlighted by the carving of a massive, six-foot-long pulled pork sandwich by officials from Carnival and the port to commemorate the debut of Fieri’s new BBQ venueThe invitation-only event was highlighted by the carving of a massive, six-foot-long pulled pork sandwich by officials from Carnival and the port to commemorate the debut of Fieri’s new BBQ venue which was installed during a multi-million-dollar dry dock last month.

The event also included a traditional maritime plaque exchange between Carnival Magic Captain Antonio Marchetti, Carnival’s Vice President of Commercial Port Operations Carlos Torres de Navarra and Captain John Murray, chief executive officer of the Canaveral Port Authority and the port’s board of directors.

Carnival Magic is the newest Carnival ship to sail from Port Canaveral, joining Carnival Victory and Carnival Valor on year-round departures from the Space Coast, as well as the Carnival Sunshine which operates seasonal sailings. Together, these four ships will carry more than 650,000 guests annually from Port Canaveral – more than any other cruise operator. Carnival operates more than 200 three- to eight-day cruises annually from Port Canaveral, providing the widest variety of year-round cruise choices from the Space Coast. “Port Canaveral is one of our most popular and fastest-growing homeports and we now have four exceptional ships based there offering our most highly-rated guest features, a huge array of staterooms and suites with private balconies and a wide variety of itinerary choices,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

“This year marks the 26th year that Carnival has homeported a ship at Port Canaveral, the longest of any other cruise line,” Murray said. “We are proud to be one of Carnival’s most popular home ports serving their guests from our easy cruise gateway in Central Florida.”

The new Fieri-designed BBQ venue was among the many new features added during an extensive makeover that also incorporated the new cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, BlueIguana Cantina Mexican eatery and Guy’s Burger Joint, also designed by Fieri.

Carnival Magic offers a variety of family-friendly features as well, including a WaterWorks aqua park highlighted by a 312-foot-long Twister slide, fun, supervised activities and play areas for kids in three age groups, and the Seuss at Sea program which includes the ever-popular Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in The Hat and Friends and the Seuss-a-Palooza Story Time and Parade.

Carnival Magic will depart this afternoon on its inaugural cruise from Port Canaveral with a three-day voyage to Nassau and will launch year-round seven-day sailings from the Space Coast April 23, 2016. Carnival Magic will offer two distinctly different week-long itineraries from Port Canaveral – a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove.

New Culinary Experiences to Debut on Cunard's Queen Mary 2
Already renowned and acclaimed for creating some of the finest cuisine served in the most glamourous surroundings at sea, Cunard is proud to introduce new dining options as well as a host of enhancements to each of the liner's existing restaurants during Queen Mary 2's major refit taking place in June.

New Culinary Experiences to Debut on Cunard's Queen Mary 2Queen Mary 2 Remastered will see the creation of the entirely new Carinthia Lounge that will serve alternative breakfast and lunchtime offerings together with bespoke premium coffees; the addition of The Verandah restaurant evoking memories of the famous Grill on the original Queen Mary; a completely transformed Kings Court Buffet; new Queens and Princess Grill menus and completely refurbished restaurants for guests staying in the suites and a new Smokehouse alternative dining concept.

In addition, menus in the existing Britannia Restaurant and Golden Lion pub, together with Cunard's famous Afternoon Tea selection served in the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar, will all be refreshed.

Many of the new menus are being created and tested at a specially-commissioned new Development Kitchen which has opened in Cunard's homeport of Southampton. Here, teams of chefs have been working with other culinary experts and suppliers to create a wide range of new dishes to be served on board.

"At Cunard, we pride ourselves in delivering a culinary experience that continuously exceeds guest expectations and illustrates Cunard's utmost attention to detail," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. "We are pleased to debut refreshed culinary offerings on Queen Mary 2 Remastered, which we have created to appeal to the most discerning guests while revitalizing classic dishes and creating new ones."

Examples of Queen Mary 2's new menus, together with images of some of the new dishes to be served on board, can be downloaded here.

New menu items in The Verandah on board Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will be introduced through 2016.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.24/FONT> - 3.15%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 75.00 - 5.52%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.63 - 4.36
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 49.31 - 5.43%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which current cruise line established its own training school for on board crew in Bintang, Indonesia in 1969?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Many people know that Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 and P&O's Canberra served as troop ships during the Falkland islands conflict in 1982, but can you name the other former liner that was also pressed into service during the conflict?

Answer - It was Uganda from British India Line, part of the P&O group
courtesy of ourtesy of liberte50 at t-online.de


Cruise News - April 18, 2016

Carnival Corp. Now Accepting Bookings for Cuba Voyages on Its Fathom Brand
Carnival Corporation today announced that the company is continuing discussions with Cuba to allow cruise ships to operate in the same manner as current air charter operations, which transport Cuba-born individuals to and from Cuba.

Carnival Corp. Now Accepting Bookings for Cuba Voyages on Its Fathom BrandFathom will begin sailing its 704-passenger Adonia luxury cruise ship to Cuba every other week starting on May 1, marking the first time in over 50 years that a cruise ship has sailed from the U.S. to Cuba.

Carnival Corporation also announced that it is accepting bookings on its 10th and newest brand, Fathom, from all travelers to Cuba, regardless of their country of origin, and is looking forward to its historic inaugural voyage to Cuba on May 1, 2016. While optimistic that Cuba will treat travelers with Fathom the same as air charters today, should that decision by Cuba be delayed past May 1, Carnival Corporation will delay the start of its voyages to Cuba accordingly.

Carnival Corporation continues active discussions with Cuba, asking that travel on Fathom be on a level playing field with air charter travel to Cuba and remains confident its discussions with Cuba will result in a positive outcome for everyone who wants to travel to Cuba, including those who are Cuba-born.

Fathom has updated its reservations process and all travelers can book its cruises to Cuba, including Cuban-born individuals, in anticipation of Cuba allowing travel on a similar basis as they would if they were traveling by air.

"We want everyone to be able to go to Cuba with us," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "We remain excited about this historic opportunity to give our guests an extraordinary vacation experience in Cuba."

"We have already seen tremendous consumer interest in the incredible Cuba journey we have put together," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom. "Our guests will visit three beautiful and unique destinations on the island all in one week, with the convenience of only having to unpack once while we sail on the Fathom Adonia, our premium small ship with its excellent and diverse dining, service and accommodations."

Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand and voyages with three ports of call in Cuba

During each sailing, Fathom will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, three ports of call for which Carnival Corporation has obtained berthing approval.

As part of this historic sailing in this inaugural year, travelers will enjoy an exciting Cuban experience and will sail aboard the Adonia, where they can choose to partake in onboard experiences, including Cuban- and Caribbean-inspired food and films, music and dancing, and much more. Special onboard programming will include a wide variety of activities covering an array of interests, ranging from an orientation to Cuba's history, customs and culture, to geographic-inspired entertainment, to casual and fun personal enrichment activities, along with conversational Spanish lessons. Seven-day itineraries on Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand depart from PortMiami on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). The ship will arrive at its first destination, Havana, the following morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. ET. The Adonia returns to its homeport, PortMiami, at 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Princess Cruises Announces Two New Ship Orders
Princess Cruises announced that it has reached an agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. to build two new ships, entering into service in 2019 and 2020.

Princess Cruises Announces Two New Ship OrdersThe finalization of the contract follows the announcement late last year of a memorandum of agreement between Princess Cruise’s parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc and Fincantieri for five new ships including the Princess Cruises new builds. As the world’s largest travel and leisure company, Carnival Corporation has an existing fleet of 100 cruise ships and a total of 16 new ships scheduled for delivery between 2016 and 2020.

The contract was signed on Saturday (April 2) at a ceremony at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Marghera attended by Italian Minister of Infrastructures and Transport Graziano Delrio, Carnival Corporation Chairman Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald, Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono and Stein Kruse, CEO of Holland America Group, which includes Princess Cruises.

“We are incredibly proud and excited to add two new ships to our already formidable fleet,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “With this new ship commitment Princess Cruises will continue to grow and expand globally as the world’s destination leader in premium cruising.”

The unnamed 143,700-ton, 3,560-passenger ships will be the brand’s fourth and fifth Royal-class vessels, featuring an evolution of the successful design platform used on Royal Princess, Regal Princess and the new Majestic Princess coming in 2017.

The new Princess ships will include the signature elements that have become synonymous with the brand’s best-in-class guest experience featuring a soaring central atrium, multiple dining, entertainment and retail venues; outdoor theater experience; and 80 percent of all staterooms with balconies. The ships will also include new innovations to enhance the guest experience even further. Specific features and amenities for the ships, along with deployment details, will be revealed in the near future.

Holland America Line Names Godmother of ms Koningsdam
Holland America Line's tradition will continue when Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands christens Holland America Line's new Pinnacle-class ship, ms Koningsdam, in a ceremony in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, May 20, 2016, on board the ship. The 2,650-guest ship is the first in a new class of vessel for the line.

Holland America Line's tradition will continue when Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands christens Holland America Line's new Pinnacle-class ship, ms KoningsdamMembers of the Dutch Royal Family have launched 11 Holland America Line ships. Most recently, then-Princess Máxima christened ms Nieuw Amsterdam in 2010 and then-Queen Beatrix served as ms Eurodam's godmother in 2008. Statendam III in 1929 was launched by Prince Hendrik and Nieuw Amsterdam II in 1937 by Queen Wilhelmina. Then-Princess Beatrix named Statendam IV in 1957 and Prinses Margriet in 1960. Rotterdam V was launched in 1958 by Queen Juliana. Princess Margriet dedicated Prinsendam in 1972, Nieuw Amsterdam II in 1983, ms Rotterdam VI in 1997 and ms Oosterdam in 2003.

"We are incredibly honored that Her Majesty Queen Máxima will carry on the tradition of Dutch Royalty christening Holland America Line ships, which began 87 years ago," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "We chose Rotterdam as the location for the official ceremony because of the deep historic connection between Holland America Line, the city and the people of the Netherlands. May 20 will be a very special day in our company's 143-year history as we officially dedicate ms Koningsdam."

The official ceremony will take place in Rotterdam onboard the ship during a special 13-day Christening Cruise departing Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, May 9. Following that voyage Koningsdam will spend the summer sailing from the port of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on itineraries to Norway, the Baltic and Iceland.

Following its Europe season, Koningsdam will sail to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for winter and spring Caribbean cruises.

Ovation of the Seas Becomes the largest cruise ship ever to homeport in Hong Kong
By all accounts, Royal Caribbean International enjoyed great success by deploying their iconic Voyager of the Seas in Hong Kong last year. In response to the overwhelming market excitement, the company now plans to go one step further by also basing their newest cruise ship -- Ovation of the Seas in Hong Kong in November this year. This will be the first time that Royal Caribbean will have two ships deployed in Hong Kong.

Ovation of the Seas Becomes the largest cruise ship ever to homeport in Hong KongVoyager of the Seas’ homeport season business in Hong Kong in 2015 resulted in over 55,000 travellers signing up for 17 cruises. In the summer, the visit of Quantum of the Seas, the newest and technologically advanced ship of the Royal Caribbean, became the talk of the town.

Dr. Zinan Liu, President, North APAC & China of Royal Caribbean International said, “We are so confident in the Hong Kong cruise market we decided to extend the homeport season of Voyager of the Seas from three months to over four months, and in addition bring our newest ship, Ovation of the Seas, here by the end of this year. Having two ships here will enable us to increase our programme in Hong Kong from 20 to 30 sailings . This means we could be welcoming over 100,000 vacationers this year which is about a 65% increase compared to last year.”

Ovation of the Seas is the third addition to the Quantum class ships, and is a sister ship to Quantum of the Seas that visited Hong Kong last year. Built by Meyer Werft in Germany at a cost of USD 1 billion, the 168,666 tons vessel has 2,090 staterooms for up to 4,180 guests and will be the largest cruise liner ever to be based in Hong Kong.

Ovation of the Seas will depart from Southampton, England on her 53-day “Global Odyssey” cruise to Tianjin, China on 3rd of May. She will then have a season in Tianjin in June before coming to Hong Kong in November.

Ovation of the Seas has been hailed as “The cruise from the future”. She features unprecedented Quantum Class amenities, including the North StarSM capsule which soars above the ship to deliver incomparable 360º ocean views, a thrilling skydiving experience with RipCord by iFLY and onboard bumper cars.

In addition, Ovation of the Seas offers three specifically Chinese attractions to help their Chinese guests feel at home. Fan Bingbing, the internationally-acclaimed Chinese actress has become the newly-appointed Godmother to Ovation of the Seas’, and in a unique collaboration with China’s Forbidden City Imperial Palace Museum, the ship will offer displays of historical relics from the Forbidden City and feature invited experts to hold talks about the Imperial Palace in Beijing. There is also a giant 33-foot “Mama and Baby” art installation, depicting a mother panda and her cub, reaching out to one another as a symbol of good luck. Pandas are considered national treasures in China.

In addition to the arrival of Ovation of the Seas in Hong Kong, Voyager of the Seas is striving to raise the bar even higher in terms of excellence to meet the demands of local guests. Hong Kong vacationers crave sumptuous dining experiences and fast Internet speeds. So now Voyager of the Seas will offer both.

For the first-time-ever, Royal Caribbean is partnering on board with the award-winning Cantonese culinary experts, Xin Dau Ji, to provide over 20 exquisite signature dishes, including fried scallops, fish fillets with corn, steamed chicken in Lotus leaves, pan-fried fresh shrimp and more.

Balwin Yeung, Director of Sales & Marketing of Royal Caribbean Cruises Hong Kong Ltd. said, “Hong Kong vacationers expect the very best at this level of cruising which is why we have invited Xin Dau Ji to answer their culinary desires, especially their craving for truly authentic Chinese cuisine. Both Royal Caribbean and Xin Dau Ji are noted for their innovative approaches and share the same target group of customers in middle-class families. With these values in common and a similar customer base we should be perfect partners, in achieving a win-win collaboration.”

To ensure guests can enjoy the perfect meal with their friends, Voyager of the Seas has also introduced the all-new “E-sea dining” seat arrangement for on board restaurants. Guests can get seats with companions when they come to the restaurant instead of only getting a designated table. The main menu has also been upgraded to Quantum Class, and redesigned to a picture-oriented menu for more appealing reading.

From 1 May, 2016, all Royal Caribbean cruise liners including Voyager of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas will be equipped with the fastest Internet network at sea, so guests can share their cruising experience instantly with their friends and family on shore. The new VOOM internet system is around 7 times faster than the industry average with a latency of less than 150 milliseconds. Guests will be able to pay a package price per day, per device starting from just HK$60 (US$7.5) - another first in the industry – for an exceptional internet experience.

Royal Caribbean, is always striving to offer exciting new experiences for cruise lovers. And now they’re launching another first: a taste of cruising trip for potential customers who are new to cruise vacations.

On 1st July the Voyager of the Seas will offer travellers an opportunity to enjoy the cruising experience at a taster level. The sampler cruise will not travel to an actual destination. Instead, travellers can simply enjoy the on-board experience in a luxurious 2-night trip at an entry price starting from just HK$1,159 (excluding tax).

In another breakthrough, Royal Caribbean has announced its collaboration with the popular young boy band, C AllStar to entertain travellers on board. It will be the first theme-cruise of Royal Caribbean’s new Hong Kong homeport season. The positive image and the energetic charisma of C AllStar matches perfectly with the vitality of Royal Caribbean’s brand image. The inspiring story of the young band represents the spirit of diligence and perseverance of Hong Kongers, which also symbolises Royal Caribbean International’s determination to stay in Hong Kong and their vision to “Cruise Extraordinary”.

Carnival Extends Time In Port In Cozumel To Provide New Longer Shore Excursion
Carnival Cruise Line has extended the length of time its ships spend in Cozumel, Mexico, on more than 750 voyages, providing guests with even more opportunities to experience and explore one of the Caribbean's most diverse vacation destinations.

On "Cozumel Plus" itineraries, guests now have access to a variety of new excursions, many taking place on Mexico's mainland – with unforgettable tours like swimming with whale sharks, visiting centuries-old ruins and swimming in hidden caverns, just to name a few, complementing nearly 50 existing tours already available.

Designated by a special notation on Carnival's web site, Cozumel Plus itineraries are operated by 17 different Carnival ships offering more than 750 four- to eight-day cruises from six U.S. homeports along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Carnival Cruise Line offers the greatest variety of cruises to Cozumel, providing guests with unparalleled choice and convenience in their shore excursion options.

The additional time in port has enabled Carnival's shore excursion experts to partner with local tour operators to create one-of-a-kind excursion offerings that allow guests to fully immerse themselves in Mexican culture and participate in truly unique landside experiences.

Cozumel Plus tours are up to eight hours in duration and include everything from extended, day-long tours visiting ancient Mayan ruins, including Chichen ItzaCozumel Plus tours are up to eight hours in duration and include everything from extended, day-long tours visiting ancient Mayan ruins, including Chichen Itza – one of the Seven Wonders of the World dating back to 750 A.D. – to snorkeling the exquisite turquoise waters of Xel-Ha, a magnificent group of lagoons connected by a series of bridges.

On other excursions, guests can explore Mexico's famed "secret river," subterranean caverns connected by underground waterways with stunning natural rock formations that are millions of years old or participate in a seasonal excursion of swimming in open waters with whale sharks – gentle sea creatures measuring up to 40 feet in length and weighing up to 47,000 pounds.

Of course, the additional time in port provides guests with more time to check out Cozumel's legendary white-sand beaches, excellent fishing, snorkeling and water sports, and unique shopping and dining opportunities.

Cruises visiting Cozumel dock at Puerta Maya, Carnival's modern three-berth facility in Cozumel which, in addition to offering easy access to the various tours via an on-site transportation center, includes a variety of retail shops, boutiques and restaurants, enhancing guests' on-shore experience.

"With magnificent beaches and interesting landmarks and historical sites, Cozumel is the Caribbean's premier cruising region and our 'Cozumel Plus' itineraries provide our guests with a seemingly endless variety of new ways to explore this fascinating destination," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "These new itineraries provide our guests with the opportunity to create wonderful vacation memories and our travel agent partners an exciting cruise option to market to their clients."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 50.84 + 0.08%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 79.38 - 0.19%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.75 - 3.17
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 52.14 - 2.60%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Many people know that Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 and P&O's Canberra served as troop ships during the Falkland islands conflict in 1982, but can you name the other former liner that was also pressed into service during the conflict?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which former cruise ship was rumored to have been a "spy ship" when she sailed for the East German government from 1965 to 1990?

Answer - Marco Polo, then sailing as the Alexandr Pushkin.
courtesy of ed Newland<


Cruise News - April 11, 2016

U-Boat Worx Unveils New Deepest-diving Submarine For Cruise Ships
U-Boat Worx has launched three new luxury submarine models: the Cruise Sub 5, Cruise Sub 7 and Cruise Sub 9. The Cruise Sub 5 and 7 are capable of diving to 1,140 meters making them the deepest-diving tourist submersibles ever. Depending on the model, it can carry 5, 7 or 9 persons per dive.

U-Boat Worx Unveils New Deepest-diving Submarine For Cruise ShipsAfter the first success stories of submersibles operated from luxury Cruise Ships like The Taipan from Star Cruises and the Crystal Esprit, the Netherlands-based submersible manufacturer is seeing increased demand from the industry.

"Our operations on cruise ships inspired the development of the Cruise Sub series," says Bert Houtman, Founder and Chairman at U-Boat Worx. "Whether the operator focusses on exclusive deep sea exploration in remote destinations or on doing numerous subsea excursions on coral reefs, the Cruise Subs are optimized for maximizing the guest experience."

Traditional tourist submersibles have small windows, and passenger seating much like a bus. The new Cruise Sub series is based on the U-Boat Worx submersibles that are used on exclusive private super yachts and by research institutes. All guests will enjoy the same panoramic experience thanks to two large acrylic spheres that place everyone on the front row.

The interior can revolve inside the sphere, ensuring passengers always have the best view while diving - regardless of the direction the submersible is travelling.

The submersibles are designed to international standards and can be operated non-stop for up to 12 hours. The submersibles are battery-powered and therefore have no impact on the marine environment in which they operate, so diving in a U-Boat Worx submarine is an ecologically sound activity.

Keel Laying Ceremony Held for Carnival Cruise Line’s Second Vista-Class Vessel
Keel Laying Ceremony Held for Carnival Cruise Line’s Second Vista-Class VesselA traditional keel-laying ceremony was held at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy for Carnival Cruise Line’s second Vista-class ship set to debut in spring 2018.

The ceremony – which dates back hundreds of years – signifies the official start of construction of a seagoing vessel. The as-yet-unnamed ship will offer a wide variety of the line’s popular dining, bar and entertainment innovations, as well as some features unique to this vessel.

Additional design details, as well as the official name of the 133,500-ton, 3,954-passenger ship and itinerary and homeport information, will be announced at a later date.

Norwegian Joy's Keel Laying Ceremony Held at Meyer Werft
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) together with executives at MEYER WERFT, celebrated the keel laying ceremony today in Papenburg, Germany for Norwegian’s first ever ship styled exclusively for Chinese guests Norwegian Joy (Xi Yuè Hào), arriving Summer 2017.

During the ceremony, the first of 80 blocks that will comprise the 168,800 gross ton vessel was lifted into the covered building hall, officially marking the start of the ship’s assembly. Norwegian Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) executives were present in the hall and laid the traditional “lucky coin,” before the first block, weighing 680 tons, was placed by a massive crane.

Norwegian Joy's Keel Laying Ceremony Held at Meyer Werft“We are absolutely thrilled to celebrate the Keel Laying for Norwegian Joy today with our partners at MEYER WERFT,” said Norwegian Cruise Line President and Chief Operating Officer Andy Stuart. “Norwegian Joy is yet another evolution for Norwegian Cruise Line and we know the outstanding work of the teams at MEYER WERFT will truly make her a first class vessel.”

A special commemorative coin featuring the ship was created to celebrate the day’s activities. In a ceremony held at the XingTian Temple at Fang Ta Park in Shanghai on March 31, 2016, NCLH China executives gathered for a traditional prayer and pledge ceremony to the Chinese Goddess of the sea, Mazu, to bring blessings to the coins, the ship and all of the guests who sail on her. The same coin was then placed under the block during the ceremony.

“We are carefully designing every element of Norwegian Joy, from her VIP accommodations to gourmet dining venues, outstanding recreation and entertainment choices and family-friendly features, to create a First Class at Sea experience that is completely focused on exceeding the expectations of our Chinese guests,” said NCLH China President David Herrera.

In addition to the ceremony, Norwegian Cruise Line also announced the appointment of David Herrera as President, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China. Previously Senior Vice President Strategy and Business Development for NCLH, David will assume new responsibilities for the sales, marketing, public relations and operations for all three brands within the NCLH portfolio in his new role. To lead the launch efforts for Norwegian Joy, Mr. Herrera, his wife Patty and their three young sons will be relocating to Shanghai this summer.

“David is building an incredible team of talented individuals in China who are committed to making the launch of Norwegian Joy a resounding success, and that dedication starts at the top,” said Harry Sommer, NCLH executive vice president for International Business and Operations. “It was abundantly clear that David’s involvement in our China efforts since 2012, as well as his enthusiasm and passion, made him the right person to lead the team on the ground in Shanghai and we are so pleased to have him in this new role.”

Home porting in Shanghai & Tianjin (Beijing), Norwegian Joy was designed by the team at NCL to provide First Class at Sea experiences specifically for the Chinese traveler, with onboard amenities that cater to the unique vacation desires of Chinese guests. Built at MEYER WERFT in Papenburg, Germany, the ship features German precision engineering to the highest possible standard, all while offering superior customization for the culture and preferences of Chinese guests along with the exciting and innovative features found on NCL’s most recent vessels.

“This steel block for Norwegian Joy marks another milestone of our successful partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line,” said Bernard Meyer, Managing Director of MEYER WERFT. “We are thrilled to build a totally new ship which is designed for the fast growing Chinese market and will be delivered in just 12 months.”

Disney Cruise Line Unveils New Itineraries for Summer 2017
In 2017, Disney Cruise Line will sail on new itineraries and to new ports, including first-time visits to new destinations in Alaska and Europe. That summer, Disney Cruise Line also returns to Norway, the British Isles, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the Bahamas

New Alaska itinerary: Icy Strait Point and Hubbard Glacier
For the first time, Disney Cruise Line will take guests to Alaska's Icy Strait Point and Hubbard Glacier. These dramatic locations are part of a new nine-night itinerary on the Disney Wonder. Departing from Vancouver, British Columbia, on July 24, 2017, this itinerary also sails to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Tracy Arm Fjord.

Disney Cruise Line will take guests to Alaska's Icy Strait Point and Hubbard GlacierIcy Strait Point offers a variety of Alaska nature adventures, including a zip line attraction that is one of the longest and highest zip lines in the world. Nearby, Glacier Bay National Park is a spectacular highlight of Alaska's Inside Passage and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another highlight of this cruise is seeing Hubbard Glacier, the largest and most active tidewater glacier in North America. Displaying extraordinary blue hues and immense beauty, this spectacular glacier is more than six miles wide where it meets the ocean.

A new seven-night Alaska sailing from Vancouver, departing July 17, 2017, includes a call on Icy Strait Point, in addition to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. On Aug. 2, 2017, the Disney Wonder will sail its first five-night Alaska cruise from Vancouver to Tracy Arm and Ketchikan.

New Europe destinations: Amsterdam and Stonehenge
For the first time, Disney Cruise Line will visit Amsterdam, Netherlands, known for its elaborate canal system, tulip fields, windmills and world-class museums housing works by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh.

On May 13, 2017, the Disney Magic embarks on a 15-night transatlantic crossing from Port Canaveral, Florida, to Copenhagen, with a stop in Amsterdam along the way. This itinerary also includes a call on Portland, England – another first-time port for Disney Cruise Line. Portland is a short distance from Stonehenge, the prehistoric ring of standing stones monument that is one of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World.

A visit to Amsterdam also will be part of a 10-night northern Europe itinerary that departs June 18, 2017, from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Dover, England. Other ports on this sailing include Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany; Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Tallinn, Estonia.

The grand tour of Europe continues throughout the summer with limited engagements in the Baltic, Norwegian fjords, Iceland, British Isles and the Mediterranean.

New Disney Fantasy itineraries: Southern Caribbean
For the first time, the Disney Fantasy will sail from Port Canaveral on longer itineraries – new 10- and 11-night cruises to the southern Caribbean. On June 17, 2017, a new 11-night itinerary will visit Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts, Tortola and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

On June 28, 2017, a new 10-night itinerary will call on Aruba, Curacao, St. Kitts, Tortola and Castaway Cay.

More Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas, is consistently rated a top port-of-call by Disney Cruise Line guests. To give guests more time at this island paradise, select Disney Dream sailings from Port Canaveral will include two stops at Castaway Cay.

Special five-night sailings, departing June 2, 11, 16, 25, 30 and July 9, 2017, will call on Castaway Cay twice and include a stop in Nassau, Bahamas.

Ovation Of The Seas Broadens Horizons With 11,000-Piece Art Collection
Royal Caribbean International's newest smartship, Ovation of the Seas, is setting sail from Southampton, U.K. this week on her 52-day Global Odyssey visiting exotic ports of call from the Mediterranean to the Far East and beyond. Guests onboard Ovation will experience these extraordinary ports while enjoying an 11,000-piece, $4.5 million dollar art collection that has been inspired by the words of Confucius: "Wherever you go, go with all your heart." The collection was curated by London-based Peter Millard and Partners and features contemporary art from artists from around the world.

"The true essence of a Royal Caribbean vacation is to broaden travelers' horizons by introducing them to new and unexpected adventures and that includes the art we feature onboard our ships," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Ovation of the Seas features unexpected and destination-inspired artwork, unique pieces and interactive art

One of the ultimate photo ops onboard Ovation of the Seas is Mama and Baby, a larger-than-life commission33-Foot Panda and Cub Set Sail
One of the ultimate photo ops onboard Ovation of the Seas is "Mama and Baby," a larger-than-life commission designed by a U.K.-based artist Jo Smith. Perched atop the SeaPlex on deck 15, the piece depicts a mother panda and her cub, reaching out to one another. Considered a symbol of good luck and a national treasure in Chinese culture, the peaceful creatures with the distinctive black and white coat were curated with Ovation's primarily Chinese guests in mind, and intended to bestow peace and prosperity on all who interact with them. The pandas are also a playful nod to the cruise line's newly announced partnership with World Wildlife Fund, which focuses on ensuring the long-term health of the oceans its ships sail upon.

Mama and Baby together weigh approximately six-and-a-half tons. Mama is 10 meters high, or approximately 33 feet, from the deck to the top of the sculpture, while Baby is approximately three meters, or ten feet tall.

Smart Art Includes First Moving Sculpture at Sea
It wouldn't be a smart ship without smart art, and the Quantum class hallmark of high-tech pieces continues onboard Ovation with "Sky Wave," a piece sure to be a guest favorite. Created by New York-based Hypersonic and Boston-based Plebian Design, Sky Wave is the first ever kinetic moving sculpture at sea. The installation pivots and curves at different points to mirror the flow of both wind and water. Further inspiration was also taken from the ship's movement, culminating in a piece that combines both maritime elements and engineering.

Each petal in Sky Wave is made of handcrafted fiberglass and varies in length to hone the flawless rolling sway. Located on deck 5 just in the Royal Esplanade, the eye-catching, carefully crafted art piece was commissioned specifically for Ovation.

Elevator Art Gets an New Look, Still Prime for Selfies
The elevator art on Quantum class is known for selfie-taking, and Ovation of the Seas is no exception. Ovation is elevating the selfie art game with all-new imagery from Chinese photographer Huainan Li's series, "The World of the Senses." The powerful series features the futuristic faces of women accented in metallic hues and sporting glasses that reflect a variety of whimsical scenes. The collection of 10 pieces is sure to surprise and delight guests each time they ride from deck to deck, and pack an unexpected punch when the doors open.

The Red Thread
One of the most iconic art locales on Quantum-class ships is the rotunda, which connects mid-ship's Jamie's Italian and Vintages. Ovation does not disappoint as passersby can enjoy the work of Bieli Liu, a Chinese artist who played into the natural movement of the ship with an adaptation from her "Lure" series of installations. The sculpture was created to fit the rotunda location and represents an ancient Chinese legend depicting the red threads that connect Chinese children to their soulmates. A disc may be connected to another, as a pair; and a pair of disks may sprout from a single thread. The installation is designed to suspend from the ceiling forming a vibrant and energetic piece that responds to subtle air currents and movement as the red coils turn, and strands of thread become entangled.

Throughout the entire ship, guests will find curated art at every turn, all inspired by the exotic destinations Ovation will visit. Figures from artist Zheng Lu are located outside Two70. The sculpture – inspired by the artist's father, a Chinese poet – weaves Chinese symbols together in a delicate fashion.

Heading into the Royal Theater, artist Dominic Harris engages show-goers with an interactive piece titled "Flutter Wall." The 120-inch screen showcases butterflies on a black canvas that seemingly fly away as guests walk up for a closer view. A true surprise and delight experience akin to the additional installations that travelers can enjoy onboard.

Princess Cruises Reveals 8th Cruise Wonder of the World
Princess Cruises reveals that The Grand Canal of Venice was voted the "8th Cruise Wonder of the World" as voted by their guests The announcement follows the 2015 "7 Cruise Wonders of the World," which identified seven intriguing destinations, each spectacular in its own way, especially when arriving by cruise ship.

Princess Cruises Reveals 8th Cruise Wonder of the WorldWith more than 38,000 submissions, The Grand Canal of Venice received the most votes and of those who submitted this destination, one lucky entrant, Steve Turner of Calabasas, Calif., was selected as the winner of a Princess cruise vacation.

"Of all the remarkable destinations on the planet, some of the most captivating are especially suited to visit while on a cruise," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "We were honored to partner with Condé Nast Traveler to present the '7 Cruise Wonders of the World' showcasing some of the world's most iconic destinations. From its piazzas to its palaces, Venice's beauty is fully revealed through an arrival by cruise ship, offering a perfectly fitting introduction to the '8th Cruise Wonder of the World' – the Grand Canal."

There is no more memorable way to arrive in Venice than cruising through the Guidecca Canal on Princess' small ship, Pacific Princess. Guests take in the sites of the entire city linked by meandering canals of waterways beckoning for immersive exploration. The landmarks of this UNESCO World Heritage Centre come into view, from the Byzantine spires of St. Mark's Basilica to the mouth of the Grand Canal itself.

The Grand Canal of Venice joins the other Cruise Wonders of the World destinations including:

  1. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand - Sail into a world of surreal beauty, where the verdant flanks of snowcapped peaks plunge into the crystalline waters of ice-carved fjords.
  2. Panama Canal - Traverse the waterway that shaped the course of history by linking the two mightiest oceans on the planet in an engineering feat that remains breathtaking to this day.
  3. Shiretoko Peninsula, Japan - Embark on a magical tour that leads you through the wilds of Japan's northernmost island, Hokkaido, where a variety of whales make their home and the verdant coastline is nothing short of spectacular.
  4. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska - Stunning glaciers, pristine waterways and watching for wildlife are a few of the things you experience while slowly cruising through dazzling Glacier Bay National Park.
  5. Christ the Redeemer, Rio do Janeiro, Brazil - A South American icon high above the city with arms outstretched embracing all of the city's citizens and visitors.
  6. Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands - White powder sand beaches, perfect clear water, and sunny climes—it's the island idyll we all long for.
  7. Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey - This beautiful Byzantine cathedral (from 532 AD) hovers silently over its surroundings, as it has for the last 1500 years.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 50.08 - 4.21%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 79.53 - 3.61%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.84 + 3.65
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 53.53 - 2.03%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which former cruise ship was rumored to have been a "spy ship" when she sailed for the East German government from 1965 to 1990?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
This week's question comes from our...Before they were Stars...file. Before she became famous as one of the original "Love Boats" the Pacific Princess sailed from New York to Bermuda under this name.

Answer - She was the Sea Venture, of Flagship Cruises, my first cruise of now 14.
courtesy of Gery Keenan


Cruise News - April 4, 2016

Carnival Australia to Launch Innovative Vessel
Carnival Australia sent shock waves through the cruising world this week with the announcment of a truly innovative cruise ship and a world-first in ocean tourism. Welcome to the next generation in cruising – Carnival Submarine.

Carnival Australia to Launch Innovative VesselCarnival Submarine is a totally immersive experience (literally!) that encapsulates everything unique about a traditional Carnival cruise combined with upgraded facilities and brand new additions to your favourite areas.

younger passengers will love the newer, truer Camp Ocean, now with a full-length acrylic glass feature wall, transforming the space into an underwater aquarium. For fans of Alchemy Bar, why not pop in for one of two specially created cocktails: the Yellow Submarine and Deep Blue Sea.

Afterwards, break out the bright colours for our newest theme night: Octopus’ Garden – bonus points for best sea creature inspiration. And for those who love the Green Thunder, be sure to try The Green Under – the fastest and steepest water-slide under the sea.

Carnival Submarine’s maiden voyage will be diving in January 2017. Be sure to book now for the world’s most innovative travel experience.

;-)

Holland America Line Celebrates Delivery of ms Koningsdam
Holland America Line celebrated the delivery of ms Koningsdam with an official Handover Ceremony, luncheon and shipyard workers party aboard the ship Saturday, April 2, 2016, at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy. The ship then sailed from the yard Sunday, April 3, with fanfare to make its way to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, for its Premiere Voyage departing April 8.

Holland America Line Celebrates Delivery of ms KoningsdamIn attendance at the ceremony was Italy's Minister of Infrastructures and Transport Graziano Delrio, who expressed his appreciation for the long-standing relationship between Carnival Corporation, including Holland America Line, and Fincantieri. Other speakers included Giuseppe Bono, chief executive officer, Fincantieri, and Arnold Donald, chief executive officer, Carnival Corporation. A video was shown of the Italian flag being changed to the Dutch flag, as flown by all Holland America Line ships. Fincantieri also presented Koningsdam's Captain Emiel de Vries with a bottle containing the first water that touched Koningsdam's hull.

"The Official Handover Ceremony was a celebration of the years of planning and hard work that went into building our gorgeous new ship and a chance to honor all those who made this day possible," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Thank you to Fincantieri for being an exceptional partner. It was truly a heartfelt send-off on Sunday as Koningsdam sailed out of the shipyard. We look forward to beginning work soon on our second Pinnacle Class ship scheduled for delivery in late 2018."

Invited guests at the Handover Ceremony also witnessed a contract signing between Fincantieri S.p.A. and Carnival Corporation to build five new cruise ships as part of a memorandum of agreement announced in 2015. The five new ships include two that will be built for Costa Asia for deployment in China, two ships for Princess Cruises and one designated for P&O Cruises Australia, with deliveries expected in 2019 and 2020.

Following the official ceremony, the shipyard employees who worked over the past two years to build Koningsdam were invited on board with their families to celebrate their accomplishment. Guests were treated to dinner in the Lido Market, and a performance in World Stage, showing off the venue's 270-degree LED projection. A tour of the ship allowed the shipyard employees to share the final result of their hard work with their families.

The ship sailed from the yard Sunday, April 3, to make its way to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, for its Premiere Voyage departing April 8. Following a series of premiere Mediterranean voyages, Koningsdam's official naming ceremony will take place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, May 20.

Royal Caribbean Asks Genius Behind Boaty McBoatface To Help Name Future Ship
Since the first time humans took to the seas, choosing a ship's name has been the most integral part of launching a new vessel. From Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria, to Captain Cook's Endeavor, to the legendary Norse longship Skíðblaðnir, a ship's name establishes its lofty purpose. Last week, an unlikely name crafted by wordsmith James Hand entered the pantheon of legendary ship names – Boaty McBoatface.

Royal Caribbean Asks Genius Behind Boaty McBoatface To Help Name Future ShipThe whimsical moniker, submitted as part of the UK's Natural Environment Research Council's contest to name its newest $300 million Antarctic survey vessel, has sparked debate on whether the name Boaty McBoatface has the gravitas suitable for its mission. Regardless of the contest outcome, which ends April 16, Royal Caribbean knows that James Hand has forever altered the business of naming ships, and perhaps could make a career out of it. Therefore, Royal Caribbean is thrilled to extend James Hand an offer to bring his talents on deck, and help Royal Caribbean develop the name for a future ship. With five ships debuting in the next three years, Hand's clever copywriting skills will surely be put to good use.

"The people of the United Kingdom know the name of a great ship when they see it," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Like the rest of the world, we fell in love with the name Boaty McBoatface when we heard it, and we knew immediately that Royal Caribbean could use James Hand's talent to name our next ship."

As the first step, Royal Caribbean is inviting James Hand to sail on its newest and biggest ship, Harmony of the Seas, when she launches in Southampton, UK this May. Hand will meet with the cruise line's very own ship naming experts to discuss potential names for a forthcoming ship.

"If James accepts our offer, who knows, perhaps he could name all our future ships," added Bayley. "James Hand, Chief Naming Officer, Royal Caribbean International. It has a nice ring to it."

Viking Sea Sets Sail On Maiden Voyage
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced its second ship, Viking Sea, has embarked on her maiden voyage from Istanbul to Venice, officially doubling the size of the company's fleet and continuing its vision for destination-focused cruises. From Venice, Viking Sea will sail through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened on May 5 on London's Thames River in Greenwich. Following the christening, Viking Sea will spend her maiden season sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic, as well as the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

Viking Sea, the second ship from Viking Ocean Cruises, seen arriving in Venice, Italy"Too often in recent years the most talked about ships have been the biggest ships. It is our view that some cruise lines have focused too much on building bigger ships and not enough on helping guests connect with the destination," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "We have created ocean cruises that put the destination at the center of the experience, with smaller ships that are smarter in design. As our second ship sets sail with her first guests we look forward to introducing more travelers to the unique way that Viking does ocean cruising – a style of cruising that was inspired by our experience and success on the rivers."

Classified as "small ships," Viking's ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 cabins and accommodate 930 passengers. Viking Sea is the second of six ocean cruise ships on order. The third ship, Viking Sky, will be delivered in early 2017; the three remaining yet-to-be-named ships will be delivered in late 2017, 2018 and 2020, respectively.

Light-filled with modern Scandinavian décor, Viking Sea, like her sister ships, was designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships. Throughout the ship, details were incorporated to pay homage to Nordic heritage and to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings. A glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessel in its class; huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out; and a wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners.

Onboard Viking Sea, clean lines, woven textiles and light wood evoke the Viking spirit of discovery and connection to the natural world. A carefully curated collection of Scandinavian artwork adorns the walls of the restaurants and public spaces. In the two-deck Explorers' Lounge at the bow of the ship, the décor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods – imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cozy pelts. In the LivNordic Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia is in mind – from the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and a real Snow Room, to materials inspired by Scandinavian nature: Swedish limestone and black slate; juniper and teak wood details; recycled and etched opaque glass; and cast iron. In the Wintergarden, blonde wood "trees" stretch their branches up to the glass ceiling, forming a lattice canopy over a serene space where guests can enjoy afternoon tea service. And in the Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway's Finse Mountain Plateau.

Designed for discerning travelers, Viking offers guests "the thinking person's cruise" as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and "collector ports," appealing to those with an interest in history, art, music, and cuisine. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

While onboard, guests enjoy informative talks from local experts and carefully selected lecturers in The Theater. Dining options onboard Viking Sea elevate food as a cultural experience – the World Café features global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens; Mamsen's features Norwegian deli-style fare, according to the recipes of Hagen's mother, Ragnhild, otherwise known as "Mamsen;" The Chef's Table celebrate cuisines from around the world with multi-course tasting menus and wine parings; and Manfredi's Italian Restaurant embraces authentic Tuscan and Roman cuisine. With the Kitchen Table experience, guests have an immersive opportunity to shop, cook and eat with the Executive Chef.

Carnival Corporation Finalizes Contracts with Fincantieri to Build Five New Cruise Ships
Carnival Corporation today announced that it has finalized contracts with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. to build five new cruise ships as part of a memorandum of agreement announced in 2015. The five new ships include two that will be built for Costa Asia for deployment in China, two ships for Princess Cruises and one designated for P&O Cruises Australia, with deliveries expected in 2019 and 2020.

Neil Palomba, President Costa Cruises; Stein Kruse, CEO Holland America Group; Corrado Antonini, former Chairman Fincantieri; Michael Thamm, CEO Costa Group; Orlando Ashford, President Holland America Line; Giuseppe Bono, CEO Fincantieri; Graziano Delrio, Italian Minister of Infrastructure and Transport; Arnold Donald, President and CEO Carnival Corporation & plc; Micky Arison, Chairman Carnival Corporation & plc; Vincenzo Petrone, Chairman FincantieriNeil Palomba, President Costa Cruises; Stein Kruse, CEO Holland America Group; Corrado Antonini, former Chairman Fincantieri; Michael Thamm, CEO Costa Group; Orlando Ashford, President Holland America Line; Giuseppe Bono, CEO Fincantieri; Graziano Delrio, Italian Minister of Infrastructure and Transport; Arnold Donald, President and CEO Carnival Corporation & plc; Micky Arison, Chairman Carnival Corporation & plc; Vincenzo Petrone, Chairman Fincantieri

The contracts were formalized during a signing ceremony held today as part of the official handover ceremony for Holland America Line's ms Koningsdam at Fincantieri's shipyard in Marghera, Italy, attended by Italian Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Graziano Delrio, Carnival Corporation Chairman Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald and Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono.

Also in attendance were Stein Kruse, CEO of Holland America Group, which includes the company's Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia and Seabourn brands; Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group, which includes AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises and Costa Asia; Neil Palomba, president of Costa Cruises; and Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line.

The new ships for both Costa Asia and P&O Cruises Australia are expected to be 135,500-ton vessels with the capacity to carry 4,200 passengers. The 143,700-ton, 3,560-passenger ships for Princess Cruises will be the brand's fourth and fifth Royal-class vessels, featuring the successful design platform used on Royal Princess, Regal Princess and the new Majestic Princess coming in 2017.

Carnival Corporation's new ships will be specifically designed and developed for each brand and the guests and markets it will serve, supporting the corporation's overall goal of providing extraordinary vacation experiences for an exceptional value for its guests around the world. The five new ships across three brands will be built at Fincantieri's shipyards in Monfalcone and Marghera, Italy.

Carnival Corporation has now taken delivery of two new ships in 2016 – AIDAprima for AIDA Cruises and ms Koningsdam for Holland America Line. Including the five new ships highlighted during today's signing ceremony with Fincantieri, Carnival Corporation has a total of 16 new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2016 and 2020.

"Today has been especially exciting for our company, our partners and our guests, as we celebrated the arrival of our amazing ms Koningsdam ship and officially signed agreements with Fincantieri to build five new cruise ships for the future," said Arnold Donald. "Supporting our goal to exceed guest expectations on every cruise, these new ships will create a whole new level of excitement and opportunity to deliver experiences that our guests will not only remember for the rest of their lives, but will also share with others. Using our strategic fleet enhancement plan to delight our guests is an important part of our measured growth strategy, which includes replacing less efficient ships with newer, larger and more efficient vessels over a very specific period of time."

"We are extremely proud of the strong commitment between Carnival Corporation and Fincantieri over the years, which signifies our dedication to excellence in product diversification and quality," said Giuseppe Bono. "Today, we further strengthen the relationship with our friends at Carnival Corporation, a partnership that has enabled both groups to grow over the years and which is further reinforced by an unprecedented strategic agreement. Thanks to our strategic partnership, we look forward to the future, and the potential to develop new projects while working together to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that the market will present us."

The new Costa Cruises Asia ships will prominently feature the brand's "Italy's finest" experience, with the new ship design serving to enhance the overall onboard immersion in Italy's unique style, hospitality, entertainment and culinary excellence. The new ship order will also strengthen Costa Asia's leadership and position in the region, as well as its commitment to continuously develop Asia Pacific and China to be one of the leading cruise markets in the world.

The P&O Cruises Australia ship, the brand's first-ever newbuild construction, will be designed to capture the essence of modern Australia and will feature the largest passenger capacity of any ship in the line's fleet, serving 4,200 passengers. The new ship will join an already growing fleet that was recently expanded with the addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden in November 2015, and will see the introduction of the 2,000-passenger Pacific Explorer in 2017. Australia is one of the fastest growing cruise markets in the world, with an average annual passenger growth rate of 20 percent over the past decade, and the enhanced fleet for P&O Cruises Australia will help meet growing cruise demand in the region.

The new Princess Cruises ships will include the signature elements that have become synonymous with the Princess guest experience such as a soaring central atrium hub with multiple dining, entertainment and retail venues; Movies Under the Stars outdoor cinema experience; and 80 percent of all staterooms with balconies. The ships will also include new innovations to enhance the guest experience even further.

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils Features of Norwegian Joy
Norwegian Cruise Line today revealed features and amenities for Norwegian Joy (Xi Yuè Hào), its most innovative and luxurious ship ever, built and styled exclusively for Chinese guests, arriving Summer 2017. Home porting in Shanghai & Tianjin (Beijing), Norwegian Joy was designed by the team at NCL to provide First Class at Sea experiences specifically for the Chinese traveler, with onboard amenities that cater to the unique vacation desires of Chinese guests. Built at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, the ship features German precision engineering to the highest possible standard, all while offering superior customization for the culture and preferences of Chinese guests along with the exciting and innovative features found on NCL’s most recent vessels.

Accommodations
With a capacity of 3,900 guests, Norwegian Joy will deliver on the promise that guests will enjoy 'First Class at Sea’ experiences, starting with her VIP accommodations. As the World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line, an honor bestowed upon the company by the World Travel Awards, Norwegian Cruise Line is known in the industry for offering innovative, stylish and first class accommodations. Norwegian Joy will feature The Haven by Norwegian, the line’s exclusive, ship-within-a-ship suite luxury complex. Accessible only by personalized key card, The Haven offers a private respite for the most discerning travelers that features personal butler service, a dedicated concierge, priority access to entertainment and specialty dining, a private restaurant, enclosed courtyard and 74 spacious and meticulously decorated suites. The ultra-exclusive experience in The Haven on Norwegian Joy will also include an all-new Observation Deck that will feature 180 degree views, the same as the ship’s officers experience from the Bridge, with gourmet canapés and premium beverages.

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils Features of Norwegian JoyNorwegian Joy will also debut an all new accommodations category: the first at sea Concierge level. Guests who stay in the Concierge staterooms aboard Norwegian Joy will enjoy a VIP experience, featuring larger balcony staterooms with luxurious en suite amenities and the services of a dedicated concierge to make arrangements on board, from entertainment to dining. A perfect category for families and guests looking for extra personal service, the Concierge staterooms will also offer guests an exclusive Concierge lounge, with a private bar and refreshments available throughout the day.

The ship also features a wide array of mini-suite, balcony, ocean view and interior staterooms, many with virtual balconies, to fit every traveler’s need. Accommodation offerings also include staterooms designed specifically for families and a multitude of connecting staterooms, for extended families traveling together.

Entertainment & Activities
Norwegian Joy will continue NCL’s long history of innovation in providing engaging, exciting features and amenities for guests to enjoy. Sure to delight guests of all ages, the ship’s top decks will offer a wide-range of never-before-seen at sea experiences.

At the very top of the ship, guests will take the ride of a lifetime on a thrilling two-level competitive racetrack– the first ever at sea. Cruisers can race family and friends and even share a photo of their first place finish. Afterwards, they can challenge one another to a game of laser tag in the open-air course, sure to be a hit with both kids and kids-at-heart.

When guests step inside Norwegian Joy’s Galaxy Pavilion, they will find themselves in a world unlike anything they’ve ever seen at sea, complete with immersive virtual reality experiences, thrilling simulator rides and interactive video walls. Guests can go for a spin with friends or family on exciting hover craft bumper cars or start their engines in a professional single-seat racecar that’s been converted into a state-of-the-art racing simulator. Three interactive dark ride simulators provide guests with a captivating experience featuring real-time 3D graphics, 360- degree surround sound and multi-sensory special effects, while flight and car simulators will let guests take flight or take to the road for an adrenaline-filled experience. Movie buffs will be transported to a galaxy far, far away and into an intense battle as they pilot a fighter to take on the forces of the dark side in a Star Wars battle pods video game, and gamers can partake in a contest of skill at six Xbox console stations. Those guests who enjoy advanced technology will be exhilarated by state-of-the-art virtual optic experiences by Oculus that include designing and then riding a personal roller coaster; soaring to new heights over mountains and oceans; or living on the edge and walking along a cliff or on top of a ten-story building.

Continuing the adrenaline pumping recreation activities on the ship, Norwegian Joy will also feature two multi-story waterslides. Not for the faint of heart, the high-speed Double Aqua Loop free fall slide includes two exhilarating loops, one that extends out over the side of the ship and second see-through loop that stretches down to the deck below, sure to offer a wet and wild ride. The tandem Aqua Racer slide allows guests to race side-by-side on inner tubes for more than 360 feet as they twist and turn to the finish line.

The top deck of Norwegian Joy will also feature a tranquil open space park, where guests can enjoy a partially covered serene setting designed for relaxation. Offering greenery, a soothing pool and chaise lounges, it’s the perfect spot to meditate in the fresh air, gaze out to the open sea or practice tai chi and yoga.

No vacation experience is complete without shopping, and Norwegian Joy will not disappoint. The ship will feature an upscale shopping venue, the largest in Norwegian’s fleet, complete with everything from exceptional duty-free shops to high-end international brands. The shops will offer renowned global luxury brands, in fashion, jewelry and electronics.

Of course, Norwegian Joy will also offer bow to stern Wi-Fi connectivity, the fastest in the Norwegian fleet, so that guests can share their exciting First Class at Sea cruise experiences and stay in touch with family and friends during their cruise.

Norwegian Joy fuses a western cruise vacation with the comforts and preferences that Chinese guests expect, plus the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian Cruise Line can offer, for a fabulous combination of culture and cuisine and a true east meets west experience.

Carnival Triumph Arrives in New Orleans
To celebrate the arrival of New Orleans' newest cruise ship, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Cruise Line and the Port of New Orleans today hosted an entertaining charity event with representatives from four local music organizations competing for $35,000 in donations to music charities.

Carnival Triumph Arrives in New OrleansTrumpeter/vocalist Shamarr Allen, competing on behalf of the Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong Jazz Camp; singer Robin Barnes, competing for the Tipitina's Foundation; saxophonist Derek Douget, representing The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation; and Rebirth Brass Band Drummer and Roots of Music Co-Founder Derrick Tabb participated in a series of hilarious "minute-to-win it" games with Tipitina's Foundation taking home first prize of $15,000. The other groups split $20,000 in runner-up contributions toward the charities each were representing.

Officials from Carnival Cruise Line, including Carnival Triumph Captain Alessandro Iemmi, Vice President of Commercial Port Operations Carlos Torres de Navarra and Vice President of Field Sales Mike Julius, along with Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange hosted a traditional maritime plaque exchange to commemorate the ship's arrival at the port.

Carnival Triumph represents a 34 percent capacity increase on the line's four- and five-day cruise program from New Orleans. Together with Carnival Dream, which operates year-round seven-day voyages, Carnival is expected to carry 450,000 passengers annually from the renovated Erato Street Terminal, representing the largest ever capacity commitment by a cruise line in New Orleans. Carnival is the only cruise line to operate year-round from New Orleans and offers the widest variety of cruise durations and itinerary choices from the Big Easy, visiting tropical destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean and The Bahamas.

"New Orleans has been a valued partner for more than 20 years and today's event was a wonderfully fun and unique way to celebrate the arrival of Carnival Triumph and support some of the city's most treasured music organizations," said Torres de Navarra. "We would like to thank our friends at the Port of New Orleans, the local community and our incredible travel agent partners for their continued support which has enabled Carnival to become the Crescent City's number one cruise operator," he added.

"Carnival Triumph's arrival demonstrates Carnival Cruise Line's continued commitment to Louisiana and the Port of New Orleans to grow its business here and offer guests a new and expanded option on its four- and five-day cruise program," said LaGrange. "We are elated to welcome this exciting ship which features a number of Carnival's most popular new enhancements to New Orleans and look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with Carnival."

Carnival Triumph kicked off its New Orleans-based program today with a four-day cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. On this route, four-day "long weekend" cruises depart Thursdays and call at Cozumel while five-day sailings depart Mondays and Saturdays and visit Cozumel and Progreso. Carnival Triumph will also offer a special three-day cruise round-trip from New Orleans April 8-11, 2016.

Carnival Triumph has undergone an extensive enhancement program that added a number of innovations, including Guy's Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, poolside watering holes BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar, the BlueIguana Cantina Mexican eatery, cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, and Cherry On Top, a "candy and more" store. Carnival Triumph also features more than 500 staterooms and suites with private balconies -- highly desirable accommodation categories not generally available on other short cruises.

Celebrity Cruises Names New Chief Marketing Officer
Celebrity Cruises has named Peter Giorgi Chief Marketing Officer. Giorgi will oversee the bold new "Modern Luxury Lives Here" brand campaign, as well as all aspects of the cruise line's global marketing platforms, brand strategy and development, digital marketing, social media, research, loyalty, direct marketing and advertising. Giorgi will join Celebrity on April 15, 2016, and will report to Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises.

Celebrity Cruises Names New Chief Marketing Officer"This is an exciting time for Celebrity," said Lutoff-Perlo. "We are excited for Peter to join our team. We are looking forward to him bringing his many years of creativity, brand strategy, disruptive and bold marketing, and success with other well-known consumer brands. His experience and approach is perfectly aligned with the direction we are setting for Celebrity. We anticipate he will do wonderful things for our brand and set us apart in the way that Celebrity deserves. "With so many thrilling initiatives and the introduction of the Edge Class on the immediate horizon, we feel that Peter's impressive experience and style of creativity, combined with his ability to develop ideas based on an original, novel, or unconventional approaches, will be exactly what we need to attract more affluent travelers to sail with us."

Giorgi most recently served as Head of Global Advertising for Airbnb, where he led the development and execution of creative marketing platforms that contributed to the growth of one of the world's most disruptive and newsworthy brands. His work at Airbnb included launching community-driven social campaigns, global film and digital campaigns, anthemic cultural campaigns and award-winning digital content.

Giorgi also spent eight years at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, one of the world's most awarded advertising agencies, most recently as VP Account Director. While at the agency, he worked on brands including Volkswagen, Jose Cuervo and vitaminwater.

Giorgi received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, and in 2015 was recognized as one of the "40 under 40" by Brand Innovators.

Help Wanted: New Cruise Ships Mean New Career Opportunities for Thousands of People
Designers green-lighted their creations. Shipbuilders put the steel in place. Now those who operate the world's newest ships – true floating cities populated by thousands – are busy behind the scenes hiring folks to run the show.

It's not an easy task, staffing a new, state-of-the-art city at sea, such as the 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista from Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line's 2,650-passenger Koningsdam or German line AIDA's new flagship, the 3,300-passenger AIDAprima. Consider that jobs range from entry-level positions such as assistant room service waiter and wiper (the person who wipes clean the ship engines) to the captain, chief engineers, senior officers and everyone in between.

Cruise crew experiences may include dramatically serving caviar and champagne on the beachThere really is a butcher and a baker (among dozens of kitchen crew) as well as waiters, sommeliers, hotel staff, doctors, bookkeepers, the team on the bridge, electricians, plumbers, garbage men and a huge entertainment team, among jobs that need to be filled before a ship takes on guests.

Experienced crew will come onboard from existing ships in the fleets – not all crew are new hires – but a new ship means many positions open, some unique to specific ships.

For the Carnival Vista, officials need to fill some 1,450 slots including the role of Carnival Multiplex Operator, to run the first IMAX Theatre at sea.

Chris Nelson, whose job responsibilities include entertainment hiring as Carnival Cruise Line's director of entertainment operations, said ideally to run the theater he'd like to find a movie buff with cinema experience. The same person will be responsible for the ship's multisensory Thrill Theater, where the chairs shake, air blows and water squirts, making you feel part of the on-screen action.

Nelson is looking for an adventure-seeking fitness buff to run the Carnival Vista's massive SportSquare ropes course, which includes the first-in-the-cruise-industry aerial cycling attraction, SkyRide. "This job is great as you get to meet all sorts of people and be outside enjoying the beautiful ocean views. It's an athletic position for someone who loves the outdoors, loves to be fit and has a propensity for athletic activities," Nelson said.

Love beer? Eddie Allen, Carnival Cruise Line's vice president of beverage operations, is filling slots for brewmasters at Carnival Vista's RedFrog Pub & Brewery, the first real brewery on a North American ship. Job qualifications include being "a passionate beer expert," Allen said.

On the 600-passenger Seabourn Encore, which debuts in December as the world's most luxurious ship, the call is going out particularly for waiters, sommeliers, bartenders and suite stewardesses with experience at top luxury hotels in Europe. The ultra-luxury line is launching a new peer-to-peer Ambassador Program, unique within Carnival Corporation, where existing crew can sign on to assist in recruiting in their native countries.

About 75 percent of the crew on Seabourn Encore will have experience already working with the line, with 25 percent new hires who will be trained through the Seabourn College training program. The top selling point? "You see the world and get paid for it," said Stijn Creupelandt, human resources business partner for Seabourn. "Plus with Seabourn, it's the best of the best, which looks great on your resume."

Among unusual slots to be filled on the ship is a tailor, who will not only mend crew uniforms but also be on hand should the zipper snag on, say, a guest's designer cocktail dress. There's also a call out for experienced baristas.

With the new Pinnacle-class Konginsdam, debuting in April, Holland America Line is launching new culinary venues, such as the new French seafood brasserie Sel de Mer, and energetic entertainment. The Music Walk features classically trained musicians at Lincoln Center Stage, piano-playing songsters at Billboard Onboard and blues bands at B.B. King's Blues Club, all of which have changed the way the line sources musicians, according to Bill Prince, Holland America Line's director of entertainment.

"Each of these three unique, world-class venues has a unique recruiting team scouring the country, or the globe in the case of Lincoln Center Stage, for talent that previously hadn't considered going to sea," Prince said.

Recruiting talented performers for shows in AIDAprima's expanded Theatrium – with its aerial performance equipment, LED technology and circular stage, AIDA Cruises also went worldwide, including sending a team to Broadway to hold auditions. New staff positions on the innovative ship also include childcare workers for the first AIDA Mini Club, providing care for babies and toddlers (age six months and up).

Carnival Cruise Line's Nelson said the line gets more than 200 applications for each entertainment/recreation opening including from singers/dancers (you need to do both) for Playlist productions, comedians and musicians to join rock bands (which the cruise line organizes), as well as DJs, who undergo training with celebrity Miami Heat DJ Irie. With 100 positions on the Carnival Vista, and openings as well on the other 24 Carnival Cruise Line ships, the line holds auditions and interviews in cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and London, as well as on select college campuses. Applicants can also apply online at carnivalentertainment.com.

For Carnival Vista, Nelson is also looking at resumes for the new position of Family Concierge, responsible for making sure kids and adults alike have fun on their cruise vacation including in the first-of-its-kind Family Harbor complex (with family staterooms and lounge). He said applicants should be "passionate about travel and have some experience working with children."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 53.03 + 8.11%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 82.51 + 9.39%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.74 - 2.84
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.64 + 6.41%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
This week's question comes from our...Before they were Stars...file. Before she became famous as one of the original "Love Boats" the Pacific Princess sailed from New York to Bermuda under this name.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
During warm weather duty in the 20's and 30's swimming pools suddenly appeared on the decks of transatlantic liners. How were these temporary pools constructed?

Answer - Temporary pools were usually heavy canvas lined open cargo hatches. Some with supported bottoms.
courtesy of Bill Deibert, Alexandria, VA.


Cruise News - March 28, 2016

Viking Ocean Cruises Takes Delivery Of Second Ship
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced it took delivery of Viking Sea, the company's second ship. The delivery ceremony took place today when the ship was presented at Fincantieri's shipyard in Ancona, Italy. On April 3, Viking Sea will set sail from Istanbul and will make her way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened on May 5 on London's Thames River in Greenwich. Following the christening, Viking Sea will spend her maiden season sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic, as well as the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

Viking Ocean Cruises Takes Delivery Of Second Ship"What a remarkable 12 months this has been, launching our first ocean ship, taking delivery of our second ship and preparing for the final outfitting of our third ship. I am proud of everyone at Viking and Fincantieri for their contributions," said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking Cruises. "As we take delivery of Viking Sea we now double Viking's ocean capacity, which demonstrates how enthusiastic our guests are for destination-focused cruises. We look forward to further increasing our presence next year and the years after that."

Classified as a "small ship," the all-veranda Viking Sea is a sister ship to Viking Star, which launched in April 2015 to great customer and industry acclaim.

Viking's ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 cabins and accommodate 930 passengers. Viking Sea is the second of six ocean cruise ships on order. The third ship, Viking Sky, will be delivered in early 2017; the three remaining yet-to-be-named ships will be delivered in late 2017, 2018 and 2020, respectively.

Designed for discerning travelers, Viking offers guests "the thinking person's cruise" as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world. Ships are small to get guests closer to their destination, with more time in port, more overnights and fewer days at sea. Onboard, guests find serene Scandinavian spaces, where every room is beautiful and functional, quiet and filled with light. All-veranda ships mean that guests experience every day with a new, expansive vista. With the most al fresco dining at sea, featuring regional cuisines and always-available American classics, Viking's guests can truly dine in their destination. A focus on cultural enrichment brings immersive experiences onshore and onboard. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

Carnival Corporation Reports Near Doubling Of First Quarter Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc announced adjusted net income of $301 million, or $0.39 diluted earnings per share, for the first quarter of 2016 compared to adjusted net income for the first quarter of 2015 of $159 million, or $0.20 diluted earnings per share. For the first quarter of 2016, U.S. GAAP net income was $142 million, or $0.18 diluted earnings per share, which included unrealized losses on fuel derivatives and other net charges of $159 million. For the first quarter of 2015, U.S. GAAP net income was $49 million, or $0.06 diluted earnings per share. Revenues for the first quarter of 2016 were $3.7 billion compared to $3.5 billion in the prior year.

Carnival Corporation Reports Near Doubling Of First Quarter EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, "Our teams delivered another strong quarter of operational improvement by creating increased demand for our brands and leveraging our scale which resulted in revenue yield improvement approaching 6 percent and the near doubling of first quarter adjusted earnings. We thank our millions of loyal guests and valued travel professional partners around the globe for their patronage and support."

Key metrics for the first quarter 2016 compared to first quarter 2015 were as follows:

• Net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 5.7 percent in constant currency, which was better than Carnival's December guidance of up 3.5 to 4.5 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 0.4 percent in current dollars due to changes in currency exchange rates.

• Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 1.6 percent in constant currency and were lower than December guidance, up 2.5 to 3.5 percent, due to the timing of expenses between quarters. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars decreased 6.0 percent due to changes in fuel prices and currency exchange rates.

• Changes in fuel prices (including fuel derivatives), net of changes in currency exchange rates, increased earnings by $0.03 per share.

Carnival said that it's Germany-based AIDA brand recently took delivery of AIDAprima with a wide array of innovative and remarkable guest experiences. In the coming days, Holland America's new flagship Koningsdam will also be delivered boasting new groundbreaking experiences especially in entertainment. Other new ship deliveries scheduled for 2016 include Carnival Vista in late April and Seabourn Encore in November. In addition, P&O Cruises (Australia) recently announced that Pacific Pearl will leave the fleet in April 2017, consistent with Carnival's long-term strategy of removing less efficient ships from its fleet as new capacity is introduced.

Last week marked a historic day for Carnival Corporation when Carnival became the first U.S. based cruise operator in more than 50 years to be granted approval from Cuba to sail there. Carnival said that it's newest brand, Fathom, will begin seven-day cruises to Cuba in early May onboard the 700-passenger Adonia initially visiting Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

2016 Outlook
At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the remainder of 2016 are well ahead of the prior year at slightly higher prices. Since January, booking volumes for the remainder of the year are running ahead of last year's historically high levels at higher prices.

Donald noted, "Our ongoing guest experience innovations coupled with our increasingly effective marketing and communication efforts have driven additional demand for our brands, resulting in a strong booked position. The lower levels of inventory remaining for sale for the balance of the year, particularly for our peak summer period, positions our brands well for continued revenue yield growth and builds confidence in our full year earnings forecast."

"Additionally, the underlying strength of our operating performance, leading to sustained earnings and cash flow growth, has accelerated the return of capital to shareholders through our stepped up share repurchase program. Since resuming the share repurchase program, we have bought back approximately 27 million shares returning $1.3 billion to shareholders in the last six months," Donald added.

On a constant currency basis, compared to the prior year, Carnival said that it continues to expect full year 2016 net revenue yields to increase approximately 3 percent and net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for full year 2016 to be up approximately 2 percent.

Based on current booking strength, Carnival said that it forecasts full year 2016 adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $3.20 to $3.40, compared to December guidance of $3.10 to $3.40 and 2015 adjusted earnings of $2.70 per share.

Second Quarter 2016 Outlook
Second quarter constant currency net revenue yields are expected to increase 1.5 to 2.5 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the second quarter are expected to be up 0.5 to 1.5 percent on a constant currency basis compared to the prior year.

Based on the above factors, Carnival said that it expects adjusted earnings for the second quarter 2016 to be in the range of $0.34 to $0.38 per share compared to 2015 adjusted earnings of $0.25 per share.

Seabourn Offers First Glimpse Of TThe Observation Bar On Board Seabourn Encore
With less than 10 months until the launch of Seabourn's newest vessel, Seabourn Encore, in December 2016, the small-ship cruise line is revealing design details of the ship's beautiful and sophisticated Observation Bar.

Seabourn Offers First Glimpse Of TThe Observation Bar On Board Seabourn EncoreLocated on Deck 11 and surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass walls, the Observation Bar will be the highest indoor viewing point on the ship – offering stunning 270-degree forward-facing views for guests to enjoy at sea and in port. The centerpiece of the lounge will be a dramatic, semi-circular skylight to cast sunlight and moonlight over the bar area, while comfortable leather lounge chairs and handsome high-backed barstools surround the square bar.

The Observation Bar will feature a variety of culinary and beverage services every day from morning until night. In the morning, the Observation Bar will offer the Early Morning Riser continental breakfast, while afternoons will feature the line's popular daily white glove tea service. As the sun sets and well into the evening, the lounge will transform into a destination for cocktails, canapés, and piano entertainment before and after dinner.

"The Observation Bar is a stunning space that our guests will be able to enjoy throughout the day," said Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. "It will be an ideal place to relax and share conversation with fellow guests while enjoying remarkable views."

Seabourn Encore will expand and build on the line's award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalized service. A sister ship, Seabourn Ovation, will join the fleet in 2018.

Designed by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany, Seabourn Encore will feature modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance. The 40,350-GRT ship will be configured with one additional deck and new expanded public areas, and is expected to carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda.

Pride of America Receives Bow to Stern Enhancements
Norwegian Cruise Line’s US-flagged Pride of America returned to her homeport of Honolulu this Saturday, March 26, as a nearly new ship following a three and half week dry dock where she received ship-wide enhancements, including newly designed public spaces, brand new venues and refreshed décor in all staterooms. Pride of America’s extensive renovation is a part of The Norwegian Edge™ program, a $400 million investment that sets a new standard of excellence for the Norwegian brand encompassing the entire guest experience.

Pride of America Receives Bow to Stern Enhancements“When guests step aboard the all new Pride of America they will be amazed by the breadth of this renovation,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief operating officer. “This is much more than just a fresh coat of paint and new drapes. Pride of America is now essentially a new ship, and the only one to offer this incredibly unique way to experience the Hawaiian Islands with 100 hours of time in port.”

Many of Pride of America’s public spaces, along with several of the ships’ restaurants as well as bars and lounges, were refreshed from top to bottom to receive a modern updated look with new contemporary décor and furniture as well as new lighting and flooring. Every stateroom aboard Pride of America was touched by this renovation, receiving new bedding, new furniture, new flat screen televisions and updated flooring.

Pride of America guests will now be able to enjoy not only refreshed spaces but also new modern venues including the Soho Art Gallery, an expansive venue that features original works of art available for purchase; the new Perspectives Photo Studio, an area for couples, families and friends to have professional photo memories of their vacation; and Dolce Gelato, Norwegian’s signature gelateria. Those looking to tie-the-knot while in any of the ship’s enchanting ports-of-call can do so in the ship’s wedding chapel, now in a new location on deck six with new flooring, furniture and wall fixtures.

The ship’s pool deck underwent a complete refurbishment to create an upscale feel onboard with a refinished pool, new loungers and Jacuzzis.

Guests looking to enjoy some quiet time can now do so in the completely transformed Conservatory; complete with new furniture, flooring and modern décor; and the library and card rooms, which were outfitted with new flooring, furniture and six computer stations for Internet access, for those who prefer to leave their personal devices at home. Relaxation will take center stage at The Mandara Spa, which is being expanded and revitalized to feature more treatment rooms so guests can enjoy massages, facials and more. The spa will feature New Mexican décor including soft, neutral colors and natural elements like stone and wood to provide a tranquil atmosphere.

Dining enhancements for Pride of America include extensive renovations to all of the existing complimentary dining venues, most notably the ship’s Skyline Main Dining Room, which received a refreshed look with new décor including a new entrance, new carpet design, new furniture upholstery, new window drapes and new columns throughout the restaurant. La Cucina, Norwegian’s signature Italian restaurant, aboard Pride of America has been transformed into an elegant and intimate venue where guests can enjoy fine Italian fare. The ship’s specialty restaurants East Meets West, Cagney’s Steakhouse and Jefferson’s Bistro also received enhancements to upgrade the venues to a modern look with new flooring, reupholstered furniture, new artwork, lighting fixtures, new window treatments and more.

Beyond hardware upgrades, guests sailing aboard Pride of America can now enjoy new menus in all dining outlets offering more freedom and flexibility to guests with additional choices and à la carte priced items in complimentary dining rooms and specialty restaurants. Building on the success of the enhanced menus aboard Norwegian’s newest ship Norwegian Escape, Pride of America’s new menus now feature increased variety and have been carefully developed by Norwegian’s culinary team with a focus on balancing popular traditional dishes like prime rib, chateaubriand, rack of lamb and escargot with current dining trends and heightened guest expectations.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of Third Ship
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced its third ship—the 930-passenger Viking Sky—was "floated out," marking a major construction milestone and the first time that the new ship touches water. The traditional ceremony took place yesterday at Fincantieri's Ancona shipyard, just one day before the company takes delivery of its second ship, Viking Sea, which will officially debut to guests next month. Viking Sky is scheduled for delivery in early 2017. The company also today announced that it has placed an order with Fincantieri for three additional sister ships, which will bring Viking's total number of ocean ships to six by 2020.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of Third Ship"It is a special day when a new ship meets water for the first time. This is our third ship to be floated out in three years, so it is indeed a proud moment for our entire Viking family," said Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Cruises. "Our first ship, Viking Star, has enjoyed great success in her maiden season. I look forward to her five sister ships experiencing the same respective success as they debut over the coming years."

A float out ceremony is significant because it denotes a ship moving into its final stage of construction. Viking Sky's float out began at approximately 4:30 p.m. local time, and in keeping with maritime tradition, a madrina – a special woman of honor – assisted with the ceremony. Marit Barstad, sister of Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen, served as Viking Sky's madrina and welded commemorative coins under the ship's mast that represented three family birth years: 1911 (mother Ragnhild "Mamsen" Hagen, after whom the onboard Norwegian deli Mamsen's is named; 1943 (Ms. Barstad's own birth year) and 1948 (brother and Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen's birth year). Ms. Barstad also cut a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship's building dock. Following a two-day process that will set Viking Sky afloat, she will then be moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out.

Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky

Viking's ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 cabins and accommodate 930 passengers. Viking Sky is the third of six ocean cruise ships on order and will be delivered in early 2017; the three remaining yet-to-be-named ships will be delivered in late 2017, 2018 and 2020, respectively. Classified as "small ships," Viking's ocean fleet features understated elegance and modern Scandinavian design. Highlights include:

• All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from a 270 sq. ft. Veranda Stateroom, all with private verandas and premium amenities that include king-size beds with luxury linens, large showers, luxury toiletries, heated bathroom floors and large interactive flat-screen LCD TVs with movies-on-demand. Explorer Suites: The ship features 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. that offer sweeping views from wraparound private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category onboard.

• Two Pool Choices: In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable roof permitting any-season swimming, the ship features a first-of-its-kind glass-backed Infinity Pool cantilevered off the stern, allowing guests to swim surrounded by their destination. LivNordic Spa: In keeping with Viking's Nordic heritage, The Spa onboard is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind—from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a Snow Grotto where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air. Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016 named it one of the "5 best cruise ship spas."

• Explorers' Lounge and Mamsen's: Share a cocktail with friends. Linger over a Norwegian breakfast and a nautical history book. The Explorers' Lounge and Mamsen's gourmet deli are thoughtful spaces located at the bow and designed in the Scandinavian spirit, for complete relaxation and for marveling at sweeping views through double-height windows.

• The Wintergarden: Guests looking for serenity will find it in the Wintergarden. In this elegant space under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood, guests can indulge in afternoon tea service.

• Dining Choices: Viking Star offers multiple restaurant locations and food choices—from fine dining in The Restaurant, which serves three full meals and the widest choice of culinary options, and the World Café, which serves international fare and regional specialties—to intimate dining experiences at The Chef's Table, which offers a multi-course tasting menu complete with wine parings, and Manfredi's, which features freshly prepared pastas and Italian favorites. Additionally, The Kitchen Table focuses on regional dishes from market to table; the Pool Grill specializes in gourmet burgers; afternoon tea and scones are available in the Wintergarden; and Mamsen's serves Norwegian deli-style fare. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking Star offers the most al fresco dining at sea.

• Enriching Entertainment: Connecting guests to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking in creating "the thinking person's cruise." Instead of casinos and water slides, guests are offered Viking's Culture Curriculum® including: world-class lectures on history and art; tasting of vintage wines from their destinations; restaurant menus inspired by local cuisine; informative port talks; enriching Destination Performances featuring folkloric shows and musicians playing regional and classical music; an onboard cooking school allowing guests to learn how to prepare local specialties.

• Sustainable Features: Designed with the environment in mind, Viking Star features energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hull and bow for maximum fuel efficiency and equipment that minimizes exhaust pollution and meets the strictest environmental regulations.

Carnival to Create a Craft Brewery on the New Carnival Vista
When guests on Carnival Cruise Line's newest, largest and most innovative ship, Carnival Vista, raise a pint in the Red Frog Pub & Brewery, they will have a choice of three distinctly flavored hand-crafted beers brewed right on board in the first brewery at sea in North America.

Carnival Vista's RedFrog Pub & Brewery is the result of a unique collaboration between Carnival and Miami-based Concrete Beach Brewery.

Carnival to Create a Craft Brewery on the New Carnival VistaConcrete Beach is an Alchemy & Science brand, an independently operating subsidiary of The Boston Beer Company. Alchemy & Science is home to other such popular breweries around the country, including Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles and Coney Island Brewing Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y. Each of these breweries produce beers specifically inspired by and brewed to be representative of their respective locales. The resulting examples include such beers as Tropic of Passion, a passion fruit wheat beer from Miami, Angel City IPA from L.A., and Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner from New York.

Similarly, Concrete Beach is working closely with Carnival to create original recipes and source and select the finest ingredients to produce three distinctive craft beers that will be brewed and served on board Carnival Vista. Those beers will include ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin' IPA, ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat and FriskyFrog Java Stout.

"We've been working for months with these talented partners who have helped us create three exciting and unique craft beers for Carnival Vista and we anticipate our guests are going to absolutely love them," said Eddie Allen, Carnival's vice president of beverage operations.

Allen noted that the brews were specifically designed with Carnival Vista guests in mind. ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin' IPA offers aromatic, floral and hoppy notes with passion fruit and citrus overtones while ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat is an unfiltered lager with aromas of bananas and spices. The third beer, FriskyFrog Java Stout, is a take on a traditional stout, rich and creamy with hints of coffee.

"It was an honor to be a part of this one-of-a-kind project, and we feel like we created a great variety that is sure to please guests," said Jon Carpenter, Concrete Beach Brewery Brewmaster. "It's common for vacationers to want to test out the local beer and Carnival Vista has taken the concept of local, and applied it to the decks of their ship."

The beers to be featured on Carnival Vista further build upon a greatly expanded selection of craft beers across the entire Carnival fleet. U.S.-based Carnival ships already serve Concrete Beach Brewery's Rica Wheat IPA, Angel City Brewery's Pilsner, Coney Island's Hard Root Beer and 1609 Amber. On a regional basis, Carnival ships sailing from Miami feature Concrete Beach Stiltsville Miami-style Pilsner, while Long Beach, California–based ships offer Angel City Brewery IPA and cruises departing from New York City are stocked with Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner.

The line also offers beers brewed either locally in homeports or within the homeport state on ships sailing from New Orleans, Galveston, Baltimore and Tampa, as well as ships that sail to Alaska and Hawaii.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2017 Alaska Vacation Program
Next summer, six Princess Cruises' ships will sail Alaska's storied waters, offering multiple itinerary options, immersive onboard culinary and cultural experiences and a variety of Land & Sea Vacations for further exploring the 49th state's vast wilderness.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2017 Alaska Vacation ProgramThe line's signature Voyage of the Glaciers itinerary, with its unrivaled glacier-viewing opportunities, will be offered on Coral Princess, Star Princess and Island Princess between Whittier (Anchorage) and Vancouver, B.C.; while cruises through the Inside Passage, with its ever-changing scenery from picturesque shores to quaint coastal towns, will be offered aboard Ruby Princess and Emerald Princess from Seattle and Grand Princess from San Francisco.

While on board, guests will encounter a variety of ways to engage in authentic experiences through the award-winning North to Alaska program, featuring the newest Cook My Catch, an exclusive culinary program allowing guests to return from select Princess fishing excursions to have the chef prepare their very own catch of the day. Also offered in 2017, the crowd-favorite Puppies in the Piazza, where real Alaskan sled dog puppies are brought on board for guests to interact with. On land, guests will hear first-hand tales from mountain climbers who have conquered Denali as they tell the exhilarating stories of their journey in the new Hudson Theater at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.

In addition, the cruise line's Land & Sea Vacations will offer flexible ways to delve deeper into the fascinating Alaska frontier. Land tours are combined with a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise and include the company's premier wilderness lodges, exclusive Direct-to-the-Wilderness domed rail service, plus visits to the top two attractions in Alaska – Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park.

Princess' 2017 Alaska program includes:

Alaska Cruises
With 113 departures from Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver and Whittier featuring unique ports and destinations, options abound for exploring Alaska in 2017 aboard Princess ships, including:

• Voyage of the Glaciers – Princess' most popular Gulf of Alaska sailings between Vancouver and Whittier features two glacier-viewing experiences on every voyage, with visits to the UNESCO-listed Glacier Bay National Park plus either Hubbard Glacier or College Fjord.

• Inside Passage –This awe-inspiring part of Alaska, known for its lush scenery and pristine fjords, will be featured on seven- and 10-day roundtrip voyages with the option to visit Glacier Bay on select sailings from Seattle, Vancouver and San Francisco.

Alaska Land & Sea Vacations
Princess offers guests more than 20 Land and Sea Vacations in 2017, most featuring multiple nights at Princess-owned Wilderness Lodges to experience the grandeur of Denali. Guests will once again be able to purchase a pre-paid meal package for the land portion of their vacation in 2017. Options include:

• Denali Explorer – As Princess' most popular Land & Sea Vacation, these itineraries feature multiple nights at the line's Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and/or Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. Most offer Princess' exclusive Direct-to-the-Wilderness rail service between the ship in Whittier and the Denali area all in one day, plus the opportunity to explore Fairbanks and/or Anchorage.

• On Your Own – An affordable option for independent-minded travelers, these itineraries offer a flexible way to see the heart of Alaska. Tours follow similar routes as Denali Explorer options, but do not include any pre-planned excursions, giving travelers the opportunity to customize their own experience.

• Off the Beaten Path – These itineraries are designed to take travelers beyond Denali to sought-after, remote regions of the state such as the Kenai Peninsula and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

• Connoisseur – The line's highest level of service, these tours provide a truly immersive experience. With a professional tour director, most meals included and enhanced sightseeing, guests experience the best of the Great Land.

• Heart of the Rockies Plus Rail – This 14-night cruisetour originates in Calgary and includes daylight Silverleaf rail service on the Rocky Mountaineer. The fully escorted land tour combines with a seven-day northbound Voyage of the Glaciers cruise on Star Princess and includes most breakfasts and dinners. Spectacular overnight accommodations are offered at Fairmont Palliser Hotel, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.05 - 1.47%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 75.43 - 3.58%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.82 - 2.76%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 51.35 - 2.58%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
During warm weather duty in the 20's and 30's swimming pools suddenly appeared on the decks of transatlantic liners. How were these temporary pools constructed?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
The freighter Free State Mariner became a popular cruise ship after being rebuilt in 1952. What was her name after the conversion?

Answer - Built in 1952 she was bought by Matson in 1955 and renamed Monterey. She sailed South Pacific for Matson from 1957 to 1970, when she was transferred to Pacific Far East Lines continuing to sail to S. Pacific until 1978. Finally sold to Star Lauro Lines, which became MSC Cruises and sailed in European waters until 2006 when she was laid up with boiler troubles. Sold for scrap and reached Alang in Nov 2006
courtesy of cant at sympatico.ca


Cruise News - March 21, 2016

Fathom Granted Approval by Cuba to Cruise from U.S. to Cuba
Carnival Corporation & plc, today announced that Cuba has granted approval for the company to begin travel to Cuba starting on May 1, 2016. Following U.S. authorization granted in July 2015, Carnival Corporation is now cleared to operate the 704-passenger MV Adonia to Cuba through its newest brand Fathom. This marks the first time in over 50 years a cruise ship is approved to sail from the United States to Cuba.

Fathom Granted Approval by Cuba to Cruise from U.S. to CubaCuban authorities from Havanatur Celimar, various other agencies and Carnival Corporation today signed agreements enabling cruising by Carnival Corporation to Cuba.

"Our Carnival Corporation and Fathom brand teams have worked closely with Cuba throughout this process and we are thrilled to begin regular sailings to Cuba from Miami starting on May 1, 2016," said Tara Russell, president of Carnival Corporation's new Fathom brand. "We have been told that we will be the first cruise line to sail from the U.S. to Cuba with our historic inaugural sailing."

"We are excited about Cuban approval and are ready to take travelers there through an extraordinary guest experience on the beautiful MV Adonia," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "This is a historic opportunity, and we know there is pent-up demand amongst Americans who want to experience Cuba. We believe there is no better way to experience so much of Cuba in seven days. Everyone who sails with us with Fathom to Cuba will have a very special, rewarding and enriching experience with our Fathom brand."

During each sailing, Carnival Corporation through its Fathom brand initially will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, three ports of call for which Carnival Corporation has obtained berthing approval.

As part of this historic sailing in this inaugural year, travelers will enjoy an exciting Cuban experience and will sail aboard the 704-passenger MV Adonia, where they can choose to partake in onboard experiences, including Cuban- and Caribbean-inspired music and film options, as well as Cuban-inspired menu options.

Special onboard programming will include a wide variety of activities covering an array of interests, ranging from an orientation to Cuba's history, customs and culture, to geographic-inspired entertainment, to casual and fun personal enrichment activities, to conversational Spanish lessons, to guided sessions with the Fathom team.

"We are humbled and honored to offer a one-of-a-kind Cuban experience to our travelers," said Russell.

Seven-day itineraries on Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand depart from PortMiami on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The ship will arrive at its first destination, Havana, the following morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. The MV Adonia returns to its homeport, PortMiami, at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time Sunday.

Seabourn Unveils Design Details Of "The Retreat"
Seabourn has unveiled design details and imagery of The Retreat, the new sanctuary that will make its debut on the ultra-luxury cruise line's newest vessel, Seabourn Encore, this December. Located on Deck 12, The Retreat will be outfitted with custom details and modern elements to create the ultimate serene space.

A tranquil setting housed in a distinctive flower-shaped canopy that shields guests from sun and wind, The Retreat is ringed with 15 private cabanasA tranquil setting housed in a distinctive flower-shaped canopy that shields guests from sun and wind, The Retreat is ringed with 15 private cabanas designed as individual luxury living rooms that each feature a large HD flat screen television and a refrigerator stocked with a personalized selection of beverages. An additional Spa Treatment Cabana is also available for guests to enjoy personalized spa services.

"The Retreat is the perfect environment for guests to experience pure relaxation and rejuvenation, from your own private cabana or shared spaces," said Chris Prelog, Seabourn's vice president of marine hotel operations. "As a perfect rooftop getaway, The Retreat is sure to be among the most popular destinations onboard our vessels."

The Retreat is located around a central whirlpool with step-up access to water maintained at an inviting temperature. Up to 28 guests can stretch out on comfortable sun loungers; pull up a bar stool or take a table seat for champagne and cocktails custom created by Seabourn mixologists; or enjoy a selection of bites from a healthy spa menu. A selection of amenities include fresh fruit baskets, premium sun lotions, Evian mist spray, plush towels and personalized bathrobes, while a dedicated Retreat Concierge will be available to satisfy guest requests.

Cabanas at The Retreat will be available daily and may be reserved for a full day via the Guest Service Specialists at Seabourn Square. Rates for cabanas will begin at $350 per couple per day.

Seabourn Encore will expand and build on the line's award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalized service. A sister ship, Seabourn Ovation, will join the fleet in 2018.

Designed by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany, Seabourn Encore will feature modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance. The 40,350-GRT ship will be configured with one additional deck and new expanded public areas, and is expected to carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda.

Holland America Line Expands Mexico Program in 2016-17
Holland America Line is strengthening its presence in Mexico for the 2016-17 season by increasing the number of departures and returning a larger Vista-class ship to the region. From October 2016 through February 2017, the 1,916-guest ms Westerdam will sail a series of 13 seven-day cruises roundtrip from San Diego, California, including two special holiday departures in December.

the 1,916-guest ms Westerdam will sail a series of 13 seven-day cruises roundtrip from San Diego, CaliforniaTo kick off the season, the ship will depart from Vancouver, British Columbia, Oct. 18, 2016, on an 11-day itinerary. Boasting sun-kissed skies, golden beaches and azure seas, the Mexican Riviera is an ideal getaway for travelers looking to visit a destination that's rich in culture, color and cuisine.

"We're looking forward to the 2016-17 Mexico cruise season, and with increased sailings and a larger ship we'll have the opportunity to show more of our guests what makes Mexico such a vibrant destination," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Mexico has it all, and with convenient roundtrip San Diego cruises, we know that these itineraries are going to attract a lot of cruisers looking for a unique warm-weather vacation."

An 11-Day Mexican Riviera Cruise Opens the Season - Departing Oct. 18, ms Westerdam sails from Vancouver to San Diego on an 11-day Mexican Riviera itinerary. The ship visits Santa Barbara, California, before calling at San Diego the first time, then continues on to make calls at the Mexican ports of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta before returning to San Diego at the end of the voyage. Guests who want to take a seven-day portion can embark Oct. 22 in San Diego following the call at Santa Barbara.

Seven-Day Mexican Riviera Itinerary Sails Roundtrip from San Diego - For the remainder of the season, Westerdam sails a series of 13 seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises where guests will get a great feel for the country and all that it has to offer. Sailing roundtrip from San Diego through Feb. 7, 2017, the itinerary calls at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. Three days at sea allow plenty of time to relax and explore the abundance of amenities offered on board.

During the sail into San Diego, guests are treated to scenic cruising past Coronado Island, Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma. Westerdam conveniently docks near downtown, so guests can walk on Coronado Island's sandy beach, take in the Old Town or have a wild time at the famous San Diego Zoo, time permitting.

At the tip of the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is one of Mexico's most recognizable ports of call thanks to its unique rock arch formation. Whether lounging on a powdery beach, exploring on a four-wheel-drive adventure or taking to the sea in search of a gray whale, guests will find Cabo (as it is affectionately called) offers something for every type of traveler.

Mazatlán, known as the "Pearl of the Pacific," is where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet, creating an incredible sportfishing environment. It's also a haven for watersports, historic sites and nature. Locals treat visitors like amigos, making it a coastal city with plenty of allure.

Puerto Vallarta has it all — from gorgeous beaches and activities galore to chic shops and stylish restaurants. The quaint Old Town greets visitors with an enticing mix of red-tiled buildings, cobbled streets and bustling open markets, while eco-adventures show off Mexico's flora and fauna in this paradise on earth.

Throughout the voyage, "On Location" programming brings Mexico's local traditions, culinary tastes and cultural experiences to life on board. A mariachi band will perform throughout the voyage, while a barbecue on Lido Deck features authentic Mexican dishes. Guests who want to learn more about the country can attend a destination presentation or head to the Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food and Wine magazine, for a cooking demonstration, cooking class or themed mixology class featuring local fare. The main dining room and Lido Market also will showcase the flavors of Mexico.

With an abundance of activities, days at sea can move at a leisurely pace or pick up speed with a packed, fun-filled schedule. Guests can get pampered at Greenhouse Spa; learn how to share cruise photos at a Digital Workshop powered by Windows; enhance their cooking skills at the Culinary Arts Center; lounge by the pool and get lost in a good book; browse the latest news at the Explorations Café powered by The New York Times; indulge in tea time; enhance their knowledge at a lecture; attend a dance class; and much more.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2017 Japan Cruise Program
Princess Cruises, the top North American cruise line in Japan, today announced its longest Japan cruise season yet with an array of voyages from Tokyo and Kobe in 2017 that circumnavigate the country, visiting the top-rated cultural ports. With 39 departures, carrying 75,000 guests, the upcoming season offers a 27% increase over 2016.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2017 Japan Cruise ProgramWith maiden port calls to Tsuruga, Japan, gateway to Tojinbo Cliffs and Eiheiji Temple, along with visits to South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Hong Kong and Vietnam, the voyages are designed to offer opportunities to explore the wonders of UNESCO World Heritage sites and to participate in some of Japan's largest and most celebrated cultural festivals and special events. In addition, two Land and Sea Vacation packages will take travelers into the heart of Japanese culture in Kyoto, Tokyo and the UNESCO creative city of Kanazawa.

A total of 39 voyages are open for sale on Japanese-built Diamond Princess, ranging from five to 17 nights, with 31 destinations in six countries. The 2017 season runs from April through November 2017. More details can be found at princess.com.

"We've been recognized as the top cruise line in Asia offering the best itineraries and our 2017 Japan voyages more than live up to this accolade, offering our longest season yet," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "We visit the top-rated ports, provide local cultural entertainment and culinary experiences onboard and offer bi-lingual service to make it easy and memorable for our guests to explore all that Japan offers."

2017 Japan program highlights include:

New Extended Fall Season
The new extended season includes a special nine-night Circle Japan cruise departing on October 17, 2017, visiting Northern Japan during the beautiful fall foliage time, including port calls in Aomori and Toyama (Fushiki).

Festivals and Special Events
A new Spring Floral Festivals voyage departs April 20, 2017, visiting some of the best flower festivals during the very popular cherry blossom season. This cruise includes stops in Akita for the Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Festival, Aormori for the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival and Toyama (Fushiki) for the Tonami Tulip Festival.

Guests enjoy the best of festival time in Japan as Princess Cruises offers eight-17 night voyages visiting the Aomori Nebuta and Akita Kanto festivals, with late night stays in both cities to allow for even more exploration of these incredible events. The Aomori Nebuta Festival features Nebuta float figures, music and many vibrant dancers. The Akita Kanto features a procession of 200 bamboo poles with lanterns weighing over 100 pounds all carried on palms, foreheads, shoulders or backs of the celebrants.

The 2017 Japan season features 10 UNESCO World Cruise Heritage Sites. All of the cruise line's Hokkaido Island voyages feature scenic cruising of the UNESCO World Site, Shiretoko Peninsula, one of the richest integrated ecosystems in the world and named one of the "Cruise Wonders of the World" by Condé Nast Traveler magazine, including a late night stay in Hakodate, home to the Mt. Hakodate cable car with breathtaking views of the city at night.

For a shorter journey, there are five-night voyages on July 21, September 13 and September 26, 2017, sailing roundtrip from Tokyo (Yokohama), visiting Busan, South Korea and either Nagasaki, Kagoshima or Shimizu, known for spectacular views of the iconic Mt. Fiji. In addition, there is a five-night cruise sailing departing June 30, between Kobe and Tokyo (Yokohama) visiting Busan, Nagasaki and a special scenic cruise of Hasmina Island (Gunkanjima) known for its stark landscape from Hollywood motion pictures.

To further enhance the cruise line's Japanese vacations, Princess Cruises offers two multi-day land tour package options, available for add-on with most cruises, to explore Kyoto and Tokyo. The Highlights of Japan cruisetour includes the main sights in Kyoto and Tokyo. This tours includes sightseeing at Nijo Castle, the famed Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), and popular Japanese gardens. Tokyo tours explore this fascinating city before heading out to UNESCO World Heritage sites Mt. Fuji, Togendai and Lake Ashi.

The new Temples & Traditions of Japan land and sea vacation package is an extended version of the Highlights of Japan with two additional nights in the UNESCO creative city of Kanazawa. This area is rich with Japanese culture and tradition where guests experience Higashi Chaya, the Geisha district of Japan, as well as Nomura Samurai House. Guests have the opportunity to receive a Japanese Washi paper making demonstration as well as a sushi making experience.

Most meals and an experienced tour director are included on both Land and Sea Vacation packages.

While Diamond Princess features the cruise line's signature innovations including its popular Movies Under the Stars poolside theater and The Sanctuary, an exclusive top-deck retreat, it also offers many unique features designed to enhance the Japanese cultural experience onboard including:

• Traditional Izumi Japanese Bath – the largest of its kind at sea and modeled after the popular Japanese onsen experience

• Kai Sushi restaurant – boasting made-to-order sushi and a full selection of Japanese sake

• Noodle stations – serving up a rotating selection of ramen, soba and udon noodles

• Tamagoyaki - a traditional Japanese omelet available daily for breakfast

• Unique Japanese entertainment offerings such as "rakugo" storytelling performances and origami classes

• Unparalleled luxury brand duty-free shopping

In addition, dining room menus offer a wide variety of international cuisine including Japanese options on all menus and onboard collateral items and stateroom information is available in both English and Japanese.

Diamond Princess was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, Japan – the first of two Princess ships built in Japan.

Royal Caribbean Reveals Ovation of the Seas Entertainment Lineup
Set to introduce another state-of-the-art ship this April with Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International has pulled back the curtain on its newest entertainment lineup. A product of the largest entertainment production operation at sea, Ovation’s entertainment will continue the innovative brand’s standard of combining talent, technology and special effects with a spectacular selection of stage shows, productions and events that will exhilarate vacationers’ senses and leave them spellbound. Onboard Ovation of the Seas, unique technologically advanced venues and exceptionally talented performers will come together to deliver unparalleled entertainment experiences each day of a guest’s adventure.

Tech-focused Entertainment in Two70

Spectras Cabaret – This completely original production, created by Royal Caribbean International and Moment FactoryThe leading cruise line for adventure-seekers will deliver an endless landscape of one-of-a-kind entertainment in Two70, a multi-level great room that seamlessly fuses entertainment and technology. The venue affords audiences vast possibilities, with immersive experiences taking place all around the room. With the integration of Vistarama – expansive floor-to-ceiling windows that can be set into any scene, real or imagined, by combining 18 projectors to create an ambient surface over 100 feet wide and over 20 feet tall. In addition, a troupe of six, agile Roboscreens combined with highly trained live performers, music and special effects, gives guests front-row seats to stunningly visual shows that can only be seen while sailing onboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships.

• Spectra’s Cabaret – This completely original production, created by Royal Caribbean International and Moment Factory exclusively for Two70, will take the stage on Ovation. This wildly popular show, already a fan-favorite on Anthem of the Seas, features the Maestro and his Agents of Rhythm as they invite the audience to an electric, multi-dimensional cabaret that transports them to invisible realms. Each night, the portal opens for a limited period of time and immerses guests’ imaginations into a multimedia show brimming with kaleidoscopic sounds, effervescent colors and dazzling movement. “Spectra’s Cabaret” blends live performance and experiential cinema with music from contemporary pop culture. It creates a world seen through the lens of music and technology, all while exploring the deepest recesses of the heart.

Headlining the Main Theater

Seating 1,300 guests, the magnificent Royal Theater is home to Ovation of the Seas’ two new production shows:

• The Dream – This thrilling production chronicles the story of a man who is visited by his departed soulmate in a very special dream. His long-lost love has come to help him rediscover his passion for life and gives him the will to pursue his wildest dreams and to find love again. In his slumber, he will confront his deepest and most secret fears and journey on a rite of passage towards his eventual awakening. The unique combination of wonderful storytelling, soulful performances and spectacular production values will surprise and delight audiences time and time again. This is the biggest adventure of this man’s life, and Royal Caribbean audiences are invited to join him on a wild and audacious journey of discovery.

• Live. Love. Legs. – The same highly-acclaimed creative team behind the wildly popular “Sequins & Feathers” on Quantum of the Seas has brought its signature combination of talented artists, high-energy performances and remarkable beauty, to deliver another unforgettable theatrical experience. “Live. Love. Legs” brings a collection of incredible aerial acrobatics, next-gen choreography and superb vocal performances that come straight from the Broadway stage. Infusing all the hallmarks of the Sequins & Feathers experience, featuring lavish costumes, jaw-dropping video effects, special musical arrangements, and a dedicated group of international artists, this all-new production onboard Ovation of the Seas will reward audiences with a full sensory overload.

With Royal Caribbean, the entertainment doesn’t end on stage. Ovation offers guests a lineup of fully produced late-night events and parties. In the ever popular Music Hall, guests are treated to the most exciting live music venue at sea, where travelers can dance till the wee hours of the morning as well as enjoy theme parties such as Groovy Town. Two70 hosts late-night themed parties such as Twist & Shout and Fireworks Party along with the Roboshows that perfectly incorporate live performers and technology.

The award-winning cruise brand’s newest ship also will deliver entertainment experiences for its youngest guests, with events and activities featuring DreamWorks Animation's popular film characters. From DreamWorks character breakfasts in the main dining room, impromptu ‘meet-and-greet’ experiences to photo-ops throughout the day and exclusive DreamWorks merchandise – families will have a plethora of options to keep kids of all ages engaged. Additionally, guests can watch the latest DreamWorks Animation films in the ship’s movie theater or on the dedicated DreamWorks TV channel in their stateroom.

Ovation and her sister ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas belong to the Quantum class of ships and are built with the most advanced technology. They feature unprecedented first-at-sea experiences and amenities, including the North Star, an observation capsule that gently rises more than 300 feet in the air to treat guests to breathtaking panoramic views; thrilling skydiving and surfing experiences; Two70 a daily social space which transforms into a multifunctional entertainment place in the evening; and SeaPlex, the largest indoor activity space at sea, which includes basketball, roller-skating, bumper cars, and more. Each ship offers 18 restaurants onboard with a variety of cuisines to choose from as well as the industry’s most relaxing and luxurious accommodations at sea with the unique Loft Suites and groundbreaking Virtual Balcony staterooms, interior accommodations that feature large digital screens displaying real-time views, ensuring that every room has a view.

The newest addition to Quantum class will officially launch in April 2016, when she departs Southampton, England for Tianjin, China on a 52-day “Global Odyssey” voyage. She will begin her first homeport sailing season in China from Tianjin in June 2016. Ovation, together with Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas, will make up the largest fleet of any cruise line sailing in China.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.78 + 3.45
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 78.23 + 7.86%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.90 + 3.20%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 52.71 + 12.89%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
The freighter Free State Mariner became a popular cruise ship after being rebuilt in 1952. What was her name after the conversion?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the name of the first steam turbine powered vessel and where did she make her debut?

Answer - Turbinia was the first publicly sailed turbine vessel. She first appeared at the Fleet Review off Cowes, Isle of Wight
courtesy of david0840@msn.com


Cruise News - March 14, 2016

Crystal Cruises Announces The World's Largest Megayacht "Crystal Endeavor"
Months after the successful launch of Crystal Yacht Cruises 62-guest Crystal Esprit, and in response to traveler's feedback and enthusiasm, Crystal Cruises is again upping the ante with the world's first purpose-built polar class megayacht. Measuring 600 feet (183 meters) long, the 25,000 gross ton new build with 100 guest suites will be the largest and most spacious megayacht afloat.

Crystal Cruises Announces The World's Largest Megayacht Crystal EndeavorDuring a special press event today at the annual SeaTrade Cruise Global convention in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Crystal's President and CEO Edie Rodriguez announced the introduction of the line's first-ever expedition megayacht, Crystal Endeavor, which will debut in August of 2018. Named after Captain James Cooks' research ship "HMS Endeavour," which discovered Australia and New Zealand nearly 250 years ago – the newly built vessel will be designed for global expedition in Arctic, Antarctic and tropical conditions.

"With Crystal Esprit, we discovered there are many guests, young and young at heart, who enjoy sports at sea and discovering remote islands, and as the interests and age of luxury travelers increasingly vary, we will continue to expand our collection of luxury travel options," says Crystal president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez. "Luxury means something different to virtually everyone, and we strive to meet and exceed the wishes of the discerning modern luxury traveler. Crystal Endeavor will cater to a particularly daring audience, one who values luxurious comfort and amenities as much as life-changing adventures."

The megayacht will be the first purpose-built Polar Code compliant yacht in the world with a PC6 Polar Class designation. As such, Crystal Endeavor will be able to cruise in Polar Regions during the summer and autumn in medium "first year" ice which may include old ice inclusions. She will also be fitted with the state-of-the-art offshore dynamic positioning technology, with computer-controlled systems to automatically maintain the ship's position with its own propellers and thrusters. This will enable the megayacht to float atop coral reefs and other underwater wonders without utilizing anchors, which can damage the terrain or other underwater wonders in waters too deep for anchors.

With the state-of-the-art offshore dynamic positioning technology, Crystal Endeavor will cruise in the Arctic; then follow the route of migrating whales along the coast of the Americas and Europe to Antarctica during the winter. Along the way, she will visit remote islands in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, which cruise ships seldom call or cannot access. With a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV, used extensively in the offshore industry), expedition cruises will also be organized to see sunken galleons, warships and passenger ships, such as the Titanic at 12,500 feet, and with dynamic positioning, she will just hover over deep sunken attractions without using anchors.

The 200-guest capacity Crystal Endeavor will offer extreme adventures by air, sea and land with a complete range of "toys" which are not commonly found on today's megayachts, including two helicopters and two landing pads for flightseeing expeditions, as well as two, 7-person submarines, eight electric amphibious zodiacs, jet skis, wave runners, kayaks, fishing facilities, paddle boards, snorkeling and scuba equipment, recompression chamber, dive support tender and a multi-person ATV. To further deliver guest experiences distinct from any other expedition vessels, Crystal Endeavor will be equipped with SEABOBs – the world's most technically advanced and powerful underwater scooter – that allows you to move gracefully underwater.

The standard guest suites will measure a minimum 400 square feet (including balcony), larger than all current expedition and luxury cruise ships, while the yacht's two Owner Suites' will each boast a whopping 3,122 square feet (1,615ft2 interior and 1,507ft2 balcony), making them the largest guest suites of any megayacht afloat. Owner Suites' guests will enjoy a master bedroom and two guest bedrooms, indoor and outdoor living areas, private conservatory, garden and outdoor Jacuzzi, private spa and gym outfitted with sauna, steam room and treatment room. The Owners Suite can be connected to a penthouse suite (806ft2) for a combined square footage of 3,928 feet (2,227ft2 interior and 1,654ft2 balcony), - surpassing any current and future build accommodations at sea.

"Crystal Endeavor will absolutely set a new bar for expedition luxury travel," says Rodriguez. "We have proven time and again that Crystal is the pioneer in luxury, and this megayacht will change the game entirely – the possibilities for expedition travelers will be virtually limitless."

Crowning the megayacht will be Crystal's signature Palm Court, which will offer 270-degree panoramic views for whale-watching and viewing other wildlife. Crystal Endeavor will boast a combined Spa and Conservatory space of a 10,000 square feet, featuring a full-service Spa, Yoga, Pilates, Salon and Wellness Center; Jacuzzis; and an infinity pool whose base can be lifted to be a dance floor or an alfresco dining area. The megayacht will also feature six dining options, as well several guest amenities including a 200-seat theatre; numerous lecture rooms; cinema; card room; and a computer center.

True to the Crystal trend of spacious public areas, the vessel will offer numerous indoor and outdoor areas for guests' independent leisure and relaxation. Further, Crystal Endeavor will be all-inclusive and will offer the award-winning service for which Crystal has been celebrated for more than 25 years. The line's acclaimed butler service will be available for all guests, as the megayacht will boast a one-to-one crew-to-guest ratio, with 200 crew members serving the 200 guests on board.

Crystal Endeavor will be built by the Lloyd Werft Group, a collection of four shipyards in Bremerhaven, Germany, which has built over a thousand vessels, including cruise ships, ice-breakers, and megayachts. Crystal Endeavor voyages will open for booking in late 2016. Steel cutting for the ship will begin May 2016 and Crystal will take delivery in August 2018.

Ovation of the Seas Heads Down The River Ems Backwards During Conveyance
Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International’s newest and most technologically advanced cruise ship which is being constructed at Meyer Werft, a family owned Papenburg-based shipyard has begun its conveyance. The conveyance is a unique process for ships built at Meyer Werft as the shipyard is situated inland along the banks of the River Ems and the ship must make the trip from Papenburg down the river backwards to get to the North Sea. The journey will be completed in 12 hours.

Ovation of the Seas Heads Down The River Ems Backwards During ConveyanceAt 1,138 feet long (346 meters long) and 136 feet wide (41 meters wide), this 167,800 gross ton ship is one of the largest ever to go through conveyance. Thousands of revelers from the surrounding local villages typically line the 26 mile route along the river bank to watch and celebrate the ship’s journey.

Ovation of the Seas will be officially launched in April 2016, when she departs Southampton, England for Tianjin, China on a 52-day Global Odyssey. She will begin her first homeport sailing season in China from Tianjin on June 24, 2016. Ovation of the Seas, together with Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas, will make up the largest fleet of any cruise line sailing in China.

Ovation of the Seas features a new set of first-at-sea onboard experiences, such as Ripcord by iFLY, a heart-pounding skydiving experience; North Star, a thrilling adventure that transports guests more than 300 feet in the air on a breathtaking journey; cutting-edge transformative venues including SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever. Guests also will enjoy a landscape of 18 restaurant concepts as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. Ovation spans 18 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy and features 2,090 staterooms.

Celebrity Cruises to Buy Galápagos Islands Tour Operator Ocean Adventures
Celebrity Cruises announced the planned acquisition of award-winning Galápagos Islands tour operator Ocean Adventures and its two ships, the 48-guest ship M/V Eclipse and the16-guest catamaran M/C Athala II. The move expands Celebrity's guest capacity in the Galápagos by 65 percent.

Celebrity Cruises to Buy Galápagos Islands Tour Operator Ocean AdventuresOcean Adventures' 64 permits will grow the Galápagos fleet capacity for Celebrity, which has operated the 100-guest Celebrity Xpedition for more than a decade.

The expanded lineup means modern luxury travelers looking to experience the Galápagos Islands will be able to choose a ship whose size and intimacy suits their personal preference.

"Our guests use the most amazing words to describe their journeys to the Galapágos Islands, said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "They tell us the experience is 'once in a lifetime,' 'awe-inspiring,' even 'life-changing.' That's why we’ve made Celebrity Xpedition such a special experience, and why we are thrilled to expand our Galápagos program with these two intimate ships. We want to make more lifetime memories."

The unique range of ship sizes creates more opportunities for regular cruises, group bookings and custom charters. The ships' smaller sizes – 100, 48 or 16 guests – will also present an exceptionally intimate modern luxury experience.

"Our unique Galapagos fleet will offer an up-close look at the region’s breathtaking natural beauty, paired with Celebrity's highly intuitive service and award-winning cuisine, Lutoff-Perlo said.

The new ships also make possible distinctive itineraries that feature an expanded list of destinations for Celebrity – like Puerto Villamil, Darwin Bay, Black Turtle Cove, Chinese Hat Islet, and Wall of Tears.

Guests can choose from a number of immersive explorations of the local culture, including local hotel stays, encounters with local residents, and unique tours. The fleet expansion also allows Celebrity's guests to take advantage of new packages that celebrate the most breathtaking spots in Ecuador – such as the Andes Mountains – and Peru, where Machu Picchu and Amazon packages are enduringly popular.

The two vessels will join the Celebrity Cruises fleet in the spring of 2016, pending the closing of the acquisition deal. Until a January 2017 drydock, the ships will continue to offer the Ocean Adventures experience; after the refresh, the ships will sail as part of Celebrity Cruises’ fleet, and guests will enjoy Celebrity's signature modern luxury elements. All existing Ocean Adventures’ bookings and reservation commitments will remain unchanged, both before and after the drydock.

Ben Dod, President of Ocean Adventures, said, "After 16 years of building Ocean Adventures into the one of the leading operators in the Galapagos Islands, we are proud to have caught the attention of a world-class cruise company like Celebrity and proud to be part of their ambitious plans to expand in the region. The MV Eclipse and MC Athala II are the best vessels in their class and we are delighted that both ships will continue to deliver an unequalled level of service and experience to guests."

Norwegian Cruise Line Reveals Harvest Caye Experiences
Norwegian Cruise Line revealed today details on its new highly-anticipated premier Western Caribbean destination experience, Harvest Caye, Belize. Norwegian Cruise Line is developing Harvest Caye to feature an authentic Belizean environment that provides easy access to beautiful Southern Belize, coupled with luxurious amenities; a variety of eco-activities; the country’s only cruise ship pier for guest convenience and comfort; the opportunity for guests to easily depart to mainland Belize for the adventure excursion or cultural immersion of their choice; and much more.

This spectacular resort-style port of call, set to welcome guests in November 2016, will be the only port in Belize that features a cruise ship pier. Rather than having to spend time tendering to shore, guests will be able to walk off the ship and immediately step into paradise. Harvest Caye will offer guests the beauty and nature of Belize along with all that guests could desire from a tropical destination experience, and also serve as a gateway to the many eco and cultural adventures that lie in mainland Belize. Harvest Caye offers a large marina, where guests can depart for a wide variety of shore excursions to explore this rich destination, including spectacular Mayan ruins, river rafting, nature tours and more.

Norwegian Cruise Line Reveals Harvest Caye Experiences"Belize is one of the most ecologically and culturally rich gems in the Caribbean, and Harvest Caye will be the perfect destination for guests to experience all that the country has to offer in authentic, unique ways," said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. "There is so much to do on the island from the spectacular seven acre beach and watersports to interactive wildlife programs. Beyond Harvest Caye, we will strongly encourage our guests to explore Belize through the spectacular eco-adventure and cultural tours this incredible destination has to offer visitors."

Harvest Caye’s seven acre pristine beach will be the heart of the destination, with white sand and crystal clear waters as the star. Guests who wish to enjoy the day in privacy can opt to rent one of the island’s 11 luxurious beach villas. These indulgent enclosed villas can accommodate up to 10 guests and are the ultimate beach escape, equipped with every comfort including air conditioning, dedicated lounge and dining areas, a private restroom, indoor and outdoor showers, hammocks, and exclusive dining and beverage options with dedicated concierge service so guests never have to leave the beach.

For those that prefer a resort-style experience, Harvest Caye will offer a tranquil, lushly landscaped pool area as the perfect retreat. The sprawling 15,000 square foot pool features a swim-up bar with stools and lounge tables right in the water, surrounded by elegant lounge chairs and umbrellas, along with 15 canopy pool cabanas. The plush pool cabanas, available for rent, feature upscale lounge furniture, privacy drapes and beverage service. A footbridge spans the center of the pool, with a soothing waterfall feature below.

Adventure will be in no short supply for guests who opt to spend their day on Harvest Caye, with the island featuring a 130 foot tall Flighthouse as the central area for a variety of aerial activities including zip lining, suspension bridges, free fall jumps, a tandem "superman" style zip line and stunning views of the verdant hills of the mainland. Harvest Caye’s zip line course will have more than 3,000 feet of zip line, allowing guests to soar through the air with a bird’s eye view of the island and the sea, with stops at three different platforms. To top off the adventure, the Flighthouse will include a challenging but fun ropes course located on a platform in the saltwater lagoon. For a lower adrenaline adventure, guests can also enjoy watersports such as kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing in Harvest Caye’s shallow lagoon area.

In true Norwegian fashion, Harvest Caye will feature a myriad of dining and bar options, available à la carte. Guests will enjoy five dining and bar outlets that feature a variety of cuisines, including a two-story indoor/outdoor Landshark Bar & Grill. An expansion of Norwegian’s partnership with Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, the Landshark Bar & Grill is sure to be an island favorite, with a scenic upper deck and a swim-up pool bar for the ultimate way to enjoy a "boat drink". Those who want to indulge in authentic Belizean cuisine will be able to enjoy casual street style dining in the shopping village. Additional dining options will include the Laughing Bird Bar & Grill serving the beach, the Manatee Marina Bar & Grill in the marina, the Horse-Eye Jack Bar & Grill servicing the island’s cabanas as well as food and drink delivery throughout the pool area.

No port-of-call would be complete without superior shopping options, and Harvest Caye will offer a shopping village, which will feature popular name-brand retailers as well as items from local Belizean craftsmen.

Guests with an affinity for wildlife will marvel at Harvest Caye’s many opportunities for an up close encounter with this rich eco-destination’s local plants and animals. To learn about the native flora and fauna in this stunning destination, guests can participate in manatee observation tours at the lagoon to learn about the gentle giants; get up close and personal with endangered Scarlet Macaws and Toucans, Belize’s national bird, in the island’s Aviary; wonder at the striking beauty of insects at the Butterfly Garden; and learn more about and view Belize’s indigenous reptiles such as boa constrictors at the educational center. Harvest Caye’s conservation programs and education efforts were developed by award winning author and wildlife expert Tony Garel, the destination’s Chief Naturalist. He will lead many of the island’s educational tours and be available to chat with guests about the incredible array of wildlife in Belize. The island’s aviary will also house a breed and release program for Scarlet Macaws, in an effort to increase the population of the native birds. Harvest Caye features a cornucopia of native plants and trees that all play a part in the destination’s eco-system. To help further the island’s conservation efforts, more than 10,000 new mangroves have been planted throughout the island, serving to increase the natural estuary system that serves as a critical habitat for birds, young fish and other marine species.

Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy Harvest Caye beginning November 2016 on Norwegian’s Western Caribbean itineraries, and on Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ sister brands Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, which will also offer calls at Harvest Caye on select Caribbean sailings.

Cunard Announces New Details on Remastering of Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria
Today at Seatrade Cruise Global in Fort Lauderdale, Cunard announced new enhancements planned for Queen Mary 2's remastering, the most significant refit ever undertaken by Carnival UK, as well as surprise news on Queen Victoria, during a press event hosted by top executives from the company.

Queen Victoria Britannia Club
In addition to the reveals made on Queen Mary 2's refit, Cunard announced it will be adding Britannia Club staterooms to Queen Victoria in her next dry-dock scheduled for June 2017, due in part to the stateroom categories exceedingly popular appeal on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth.

From L-R: David Noyes, Cunard CEO, Richard Meadows, President, Cunard North America, Angus Struthers, Vice President of Marketing, and Jackie Chase, Director of Public Relations"The changes being made are a direct response to our discerning passengers increasing desire for space and style, and to meet their rising expectations of luxury," stated David Noyes, Cunard CEO.

Queen Mary 2 Remastered
Queen Mary 2, which will be in dry dock from 27 May to 21 June, will see several enhancements including 30 additional Britannia Club Staterooms, 15 new single staterooms, and an expansion of the ship's dedicated kennel for cats and dogs. All staterooms will be remastered by the start of the ship's 2017 World Cruise.

Shared for the first time at Cunard's press event were renderings showcasing new designs for Queen Mary 2's coveted and luxurious Queens Grill Duplex Apartment and Penthouse Suites, as well as videos on Queen Mary 2's redesign and culinary program.

"Cunard was the innovator of the luxury suite category, and this remastering will further showcase the richness of ship's stateroom design, intimate dining experiences and White Star Service," commented Richard Meadows, President, Cunard North America.

In the newly debuted videos, Queen Mary 2's interior decorators delve into what it took to stay true to Cunard's heritage in "Inspired by the Originals," and Cunard's twin Executive Chefs, Nicholas and Mark Oldroyd, share the process of working together on developing new menus and further enhancing the ship's fine dining in "The Oldroyd Twins."

"We are all very excited about what Nicholas Oldroyd and his twin Mark, the Executive Chef onboard Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, are doing to reinvigorate the menus across the fleet," continued Richard Meadows. "They have gone to great lengths to source interesting and different ingredients, and we believe our guests will be extremely pleased."

Cunard, which found inspiration not only in Queen Mary, but also in its guests, announced that in conjuncture with the remastering of all of its staterooms and suites, it will also introduce tea and coffee makers in each cabin.

"Guest feedback was especially important as we explored the redesign of the staterooms," said Angus Struthers, Vice President of Marketing. "We believe the new designs on board provide a more distinctive Cunard character and will elevate the guest experience."

"During our 175-year history, Cunard earned a reputation for being the arbiter of style and taste. The remastering of Queen Mary 2 continues this tradition by the thoughtful contemporizing of the product, while maintaining the refined design aesthetics and service standards that are deeply based in British style and refinement," continued David Noyes, Cunard CEO. "The combination of our keen attention to detail, and incorporating inspirations from our past will continue to propel the powerful Cunard story, which we think will strongly resonate with today's discerning travelers."

MSC Cruises Partners Celebrity Chef Roy Yamaguchi
MSC Cruises, the Swiss-based ruise company today announced a new partnership with celebrated pan-Asian chef and international culinary pioneer, Roy Yamaguchi.

The innovative Japanese-American celebrity chef will initially introduce a specialty pan-Asian restaurant on board the cruise line’s new next-generation ship, MSC Seaside – known as “the ship that follows the sun” – bringing his unique fusion of cooking traditions to MSC Cruises. This latest announcement further demonstrates MSC Cruises’ ongoing commitment to international fine dining and adds to the cruise line’s existing partnerships with renowned, award-winning chefs Carlo Cracco, Jean-Philippe Maury and Jereme Leung.

MSC Cruises Partners Celebrity Chef Roy Yamaguchi“Our heritage lies in the Mediterranean, where a passion for food is a way of life and we seek to bring this to life every day for our guests with always fresh, authentic food of the highest quality,” said Gianni Onorato, chief executive officer of MSC Cruises. “The enjoyment of good food plays an integral role in creating unforgettable emotions as well as enabling our guests to discover new cultures and tastes, whilst cruising on one of our beautiful ships.”

“The dining experience on an MSC Cruises ship is distinguished by the extensive variety of Mediterranean and international cuisines and wide range of dining formats available,” said Onorato. “The four top chefs whom we currently work with are known as leading global experts in their respective cuisines and each one brings world-class fine dining expertise, elevating the dining experience for our guests to a new level.”

“We provide a wide range of specialty restaurants to give our guests a wide and varied choice during their cruise,” continued Onorato. “We are developing exciting new dining options onboard MSC Seaside, with nine eateries featuring cuisines from all around the world including a pan-Asian restaurant in partnership with Roy Yamaguchi, a luxury fish restaurant with a chef’s table and a world class international steak house where the beef will dry age on board.”

Chef Yamaguchi will have a dedicated presence and specialty restaurant onboard MSC Cruises next-generation new build, MSC Seaside – one of the company’s most innovative and revolutionary ships – which will come into service in December 2017 and sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean.

As part of the partnership, Chef Yamaguchi will be personally involved in conceptualizing and designing every element of the new pan-Asian restaurant, bringing his creative flair and vision to every single detail of the guest’s experience. This includes creating the recipes and menus; selecting the chinaware to enhance the dishes; choosing music to create the right ambience; deciding the perfect wines to complement the food; and even picking out the paper stock for the menus.

In addition to featuring a variety of Chef Yamaguchi’s gourmet pan-Asian style dishes, the restaurant will include a sushi, sashimi, and raw bar, as well as a space with teppanyaki grills in which guests will be able to enjoy a variety of cooking styles – ranging from traditional Japanese to Malaysian to Thai Korean – and be entertained by skilled teppanyaki chefs as their meal is cooked in front of them.

An international culinary visionary and the creator of Hawaiian fusion cuisine, Yamaguchi intertwines his Japanese heritage with love for the freshest ingredients. He is the founder of 30 Roy’s Restaurants, including 28 in the United States, one in Guam and one in Okinawa, Japan. His numerous accolades include the prestigious James Beard Award. Yamaguchi has also hosted six seasons of the television show "Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi," seen in more than 60 countries. He has also published four culinary cookbooks

Carnival Magic To Feature New Guy Fieri-Designed Open-Air Barbecue
Chef and restaurateur Guy Fieri, whose Guy's Burger Joints on Carnival Cruise Line ships have earned a reputation as the best burgers at sea, has expanded his seagoing culinary offerings with a new authentic smokehouse and barbecue venue aboard Carnival Magic.

Carnival Magic To Feature New Guy Fieri-Designed Open-Air BarbecueGuy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse is a casual open-air eatery located on Carnival Magic's Lanai on Promenade Deck featuring a wide variety of BBQ favorites smoked right on board over hickory and cherry wood using Guy's signature recipes, rubs and spices. A member of the American Royal National Barbecue Hall of Fame, Fieri is cooking up real-deal smokehouse favorites like bone-in, dry-rubbed, slow-smoked and pulled Championship Pork Butt, dry-rubbed and grilled Blue Ribbon Chicken, smoked Andouille sausage and Sliced Smoked Round of Beef cooked "low and slow" and thinly sliced. A rarity on cruise ships, Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse features a traditional wood smoker which was installed on board as part of a recent dry dock.

Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse also features Fieri's own unique take on traditional side dishes with deliciously creative offerings like Mac Daddy Mac n Cheese, Old Skool Potato Salad, Scratch-Made Slaw, Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey, and Molasses Baked Beans with Bacon and Burnt Ends. All items at Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse will be available free of charge.

Diners can spice up their dishes with Fieri's signature BBQ sauces, including Award-Winning Brown Sugar (sweet and sticky), Kansas City (smoky and sweet), and Sriracha BBQ (spicy and tangy) and Carolina #6 (tangy with sweet heat). A hot sauce bar, as well as a wide range of ice-cold beers and sodas, will be available, as well.

Commented Fieri, "Everyone knows that it takes the finest meats cooked 'low and slow' to create truly righteous mouth-watering barbecue. My new 'Pig & Anchor' eatery on Carnival Magic is gonna be off the hook! Be sure to grab lots of napkins -- it's gonna get messy!"

"Guy has been a wonderful partner and we can't wait for our guests to enjoy all the incredible offerings at his Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse which we're sure will be a huge hit with Carnival Magic guests," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

Open sea days from noon to 2:30 p.m., Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse is part of Carnival Magic's extensive multi-million-dollar renovation that spanned three weeks and added a variety of exciting new dining and bar concepts, including, of course, a Guy's Burger Joint, a free-of-charge poolside venue serving hand-crafted burgers and fries with recipes created by the Food Network star. Including Carnival Magic, Guy's Burger Joints are available on 11 Carnival ships and serve more than 1,000 burgers per ship per day. Guy's Burger Joint will also be featured aboard the new Carnival Vista when it debuts in May.

Other newly added spaces on Carnival Magic include two poolside bars – the RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar – along with the BlueIguana Cantina serving authentic Mexican tacos and burritos, Pizzeria del Capitano offering hand-tossed artisanal pies, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, and a "candy and more store" called Cherry on Top.

Carnival Magic will continue its seven-day schedule from Galveston through April 10, 2016 then reposition to Port Canaveral to launch year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises April 23, 2016. Prior to launching its new seven-day schedule from Port Canaveral, Carnival Magic will operate a special three-day cruise to Nassau April 20-23, 2016.

Carnival Magic will offer two distinctly different week-long itineraries from the Space Coast – a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove.

Hong Kong Cruises To New Heights With Strong Passenger Throughput And Ship Call Growth
Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) released today the strong cruise figures in 2015 at the Seatrade Cruise Global 2016 event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. To strengthen Hong Kong's position as Asia's Cruise Hub, HKTB announced a new funding for cruise lines to develop a fly-cruise program to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Cruises To New Heights With Strong Passenger Throughput And Ship Call Growth"Asia will play a pivotal role in the future of the global cruise market. Hong Kong, as Asia's Cruise Hub, has seen remarkable performance in the cruise travel sector in the past few years. With Hong Kong's state-of-the-art cruise infrastructure, together with the diverse visitor experiences that the city offers, we have built up a good reputation as a cruise destination. The new cruise funding support, together with the strategic alliance 'Asia Cruise Cooperation,' will take cruise tourism in Hong Kong to new heights," said Mr. Anthony Lau, Executive Director of the HKTB.

In 2015, Hong Kong received over 140 ship calls, a 60% increase over 2013 when the new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal opened. With this world-class infrastructure and the unwavering support of cruise trade partners, passenger travel on destination cruises was particularly strong. Total passenger throughput reached 452,768 in 2015, up almost 140% compared to 2013. Among these, passenger throughput from the Hong Kong domestic market and Mainland market increased five-fold (409%) and four-fold (346%) respectively. Hong Kong has seen major deployments by key cruise lines, including Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Star Cruises, and in 2016, it will see new deployments or maiden calls from Dream Cruises, MSC and Norwegian Cruise Lines, among others.

Riding on the growing momentum, HKTB announced a new funding to promote fly-cruise with cruise lines in 2016. The purpose of the funding is to foster the development of fly-cruise tourism to Hong Kong with the co-operation of cruise lines to promote fly-cruise products in potential markets. Targeting cruises that are homeporting or with turnaround calls in Hong Kong, the new initiative was designed to assist the promotion of fly-cruise products, including marketing promotions and product development. The HKTB will engage with cruise lines to develop customized programs to tap into potential source markets and take advantage of the world-class experiences and infrastructures Hong Kong has to offer.

To grow Asia's cruise tourism, Hong Kong is also dedicated in driving the synergy of regional cooperation. Hong Kong, together with neighboring Asian destinations including Hainan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Xiamen, formed a committed and resourceful alliance called the "Asia Cruise Cooperation," which aims at maximising the growth of cruise tourism in Asia. The Cooperation provides a one-stop platform to support cruise lines' development in Asia by facilitating itinerary development, sharing industry and market insights, enhancing cruise lines' marketing efforts with funding support and creating consumer demand for cruising.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 48.12 + 2.27
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 72.53 - 1.49%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.81 - 6.33%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 46.69 - 6.02%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the first steam turbine powered vessel and where did she make her debut?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
How many liners has Cunard named after Queens and what were the names?

Answer - In its' history, Cunard has named four ships after Queens: Mary, Elizabeth, Victoria and, in 1918, Berengaria, wife of Richard the Lionheart.
courtesy of Armand Mantia


Cruise News - March 7, 2016

Disney Cruise Line Announces Two New Ships
The Walt Disney Company announced plans today to build two additional cruise ships, each of them showcasing the immersive family entertainment, enchanting storytelling and unparalleled service that only Disney can deliver.

The company has entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany. The schedule calls for the new ships to be completed in 2021 and 2023.

Disney Cruise Line Announces Two New Ships"We pride ourselves on the unforgettable vacation experiences we deliver to our guests each and every day, and the expansion of our Disney fleet will allow us to create even more magical memories for families at sea and in incredible cruise destinations around the world," said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company.

Each new ship will be approximately 135,000 gross tons – slightly larger than the newest Disney Cruise Line ships, the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy – and each is currently planned to include about 1,250 guest staterooms. While design plans, ship names and itineraries are still in development, the Walt Disney Imagineering team is already dreaming up exciting new ways to create the world's most magical oceangoing adventures.

Since first setting sail in 1998, Disney Cruise Line has provided a quintessential family cruise vacation experience that combines the magic of Disney with the thrill of exploring different parts of the world. Guests step aboard majestic and beautiful ocean liners to enjoy legendary Disney entertainment, exquisite dining, spacious and well-appointed staterooms and magnificent public spaces.

The company also has been an industry leader in innovation and game-changing creativity. With the launch of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy in 2011 and 2012, the company introduced several firsts for the industry, including a water coaster at sea (AquaDuck) and virtual portholes in interior staterooms (Magical Portholes) that provide real-time views of the sea as well as sightings of animated Disney characters.

Plans for the expansion of Disney Cruise Line come during a period of momentous growth and innovation for Disney properties around the globe.

"The expansion of Disney Cruise Line only adds to our excitement for the unprecedented growth taking place across our vacation destinations, from new Star Wars experiences coming to the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts to the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris and the grand opening of our newest park, Shanghai Disney Resort," said Bob Chapek, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

More details about the Disney Cruise Line fleet expansion and onboard offerings will be announced at a later date.

Seabourn Celebrates Float Out Of New Seabourn Encore
Seabourn celebrated another milestone in the construction of its new Seabourn Encore, with the ship touching water for the first time today. Following a traditional ceremony to commemorate this significant occasion, the ship will be "floated out" from its dry dock to its outfitting dock at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard in Italy, where it will undergo final construction until the ship is delivered at the end of 2016.

Seabourn Celebrates Float Out Of New Seabourn EncoreDuring the ceremony, the ship's "madrina" cut the cord to begin the water flow to the ship's building dock. Marnie Tihany, the director of business development for Tihany Design and wife of hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany, served as the madrina of Seabourn Encore. Adam Tihany is the visionary who will bring Seabourn's bespoke aesthetic to life aboard Encore.

"Seeing Seabourn Encore in the water is a very special moment and represents another important step toward the completion of our highly-anticipated ship," said Richard Meadows, Seabourn President. "We continue to hear from our guests and travel industry partners about their excitement for this incredible ship, and they are just as eager as we are to welcome her to the Seabourn family later this year."

Seabourn Encore is being fashioned by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany, with contemporary interiors and modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance. The ship will expand and build on the line's award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalized service by close to one staff member for each guest on board. The 40,350-GRT ship will be configured with one additional deck and new expanded public areas, and is expected to carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda.

Royal Caribbean Passenger Jumps Overboard
Royal Caribbean Passenger Goes OverboardA 46-year old passenger from Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas reportedly jumped overboard while the ship was sailing near Key Largo late Friday evening. The passenger, David Mossman or Cypress, Florida had reportedly been arguing with a women just prior to jumping overboard.

The U.S. Coast Guard was contacted by the ship's crew shortly after midnight and dispatched a HC-130 Hercules airplane to help coordinate a search for the missing man in an area of 2,583 square nautical miles off the coast of Florida. The Coast Guard called off the search Sunday afternoon.

“We want to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Mossman as the decision to suspend a search is never an easy one to make and is done with great care and deliberation,” said Chris Eddy, search-and-rescue technical specialist at the Coast Guard 7th District. “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and an exhaustive search, our crews were unable to locate him.

Navigator of the Seas was on a 6-day round trip cruise from Port Everglades with stops in Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Haiti.

Royal Caribbean Unveils Private Journeys
Adding to Royal Caribbean International's close to 3,000 shore excursions worldwide, guests will be able to craft personalized shore excursions to immerse themselves in local culture, cuisine and adventure across 288 ports of call in 77 countries. No matter the ship or the sailing, guests can book special Private Journeys, tailored to their budget, interests, experience and travel style.

Royal Caribbean Unveils Private JourneysThis concierge-style planning service will connect guests with one of nine Destination Insiders to plan every detail of their shore experience before they set sail. Using their intimate local knowledge, nearly 100 years of combined experience and connections around the world, Destination Insiders will design personalized activities, programs and adventures for individual guests, couples, families and small groups. From cooking alongside Michelin-starred chefs, to wandering through the Italian and French Riviera on a private yacht, Destination Insiders will work hand-in-hand guests to design unique, memory-generating destination experiences that will serve as distinct bragging rights upon returning home.

"Private Journeys is a natural evolution of Royal Caribbean's renowned shore excursion program that allows us to offer guests the bespoke travel destination experience of their dreams, even if they don't know exactly what that is yet," said Roberta Jacoby, Managing Director, Global Tour Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "As travelers continue to seek out more personalized and immersive destination experiences that can be intimately shared with only their family and friends, Private Journeys empowers guests to make that a reality and a seamless element of their Royal Caribbean vacation."

Some Private Journeys Examples Include:

Misty Fjords & Crab Feast
Ketchikan, Alaska
Explore Misty Fjords National Monument from a de Havilland Beaver float plane, followed by a sumptuous Alaskan fireside meal. After a narrated journey soaring above the Alaskan wilderness, guests will land either on an alpine lake or remote fjord. Then, sit by the fireplace, sip Alaskan Amber beer, wine, or champagne paired with smoked salmon, followed by steaming Dungeness crab.

Lunch at Belgium's Michelin-Starred Restaurant Jardin
Bruges, Belgium
Go behind the scenes at one of the world's acclaimed restaurants. The owner will show guests the kitchen, where Belgian recipes and the bounty of the North Sea come together. After the tour, savor a gourmet lunch served in Jardin's exquisite dining room.

Yachting in the Dubrovnik Riviera
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Journey by private yacht into the untamed and unspoiled reaches of Croatia's Dubrovnik Riviera. Cruise down the rugged coastline and go ashore to explore the Old Town of Dubrovnik itself. Then, climb back aboard and set off exploring this archipelago of 14 pristine islands and islets. Go ashore to explore the 15th century ruins on the island of Kolocep. Swim in secluded lagoons and soak up the sunshine in five-star style.

Rostock by Vintage Auto
Berlin, Germany

Guests can settle into the seat of a vintage beauty and have a personal driver show them the German countryside. Rumble to the resort town of Heiligendamm for a snack of Canapés and champagne overlooking the Baltic Sea. Guests can even take the wheel on the scenic stretch to Rostock, and enjoy a guided walk through narrow streets lined with 15th-century gabled homes. Finally, board a sightseeing vessel and unwind on a lovely cruise back to port.

Whether it's exploring ruins in Europe, wine tasting in New Zealand or ziplining in the Caribbean, Royal Caribbean guests can experience a world of opportunities during a port call. To make a custom experience as part of an upcoming cruise, guests must complete and submit a Private Journeys request form online, at least 30 days before their sailing date.

Carnival Unveils Carnival LIVE's Fall 2016 Lineup
Carnival Cruise Line has announced its fall 2016 Carnival LIVE lineup featuring country music star Sam Hunt and comedians Chris Tucker and Jim Gaffigan.

Carnival Unveils Carnival LIVE's Fall 2016 LineupBringing the best in live music and comedy to the seas, Carnival LIVE is a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience that provides guests an opportunity to enjoy captivating performances by major artists at a tremendous value. Performances are held in the ships' main theaters – ranging in guest capacity from 900 to 1,300 – meaning there's never a bad seat in the house.

Carnival LIVE performances are held while vessels are docked in Cozumel, Nassau and, for the first time, Grand Cayman and Montego Bay.

Known for his innovative and boundary-breaking artistry, Sam Hunt will have audiences singing along and dancing in the aisles as he performs two shows while Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Splendor are docked in Cozumel on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20, respectively. Hunt – who was recently nominated for a Grammy Award and has been honored with an American Music Award, a CMT Award and an Academy of Country Music Award – is the first country artist to chart all singles from his debut album in the Billboard Hot 100.

Grammy award-winner Jim Gaffigan brings his unique brand of humor with performances in Nassau aboard Carnival Valor Sept. 6 and Carnival Fantasy Sept. 7. Gaffigan is a New York Times best-selling author, top touring performer, and multi-platinum-selling father of five. He recently wrapped the first season of his critically acclaimed television show, The Jim Gaffigan Show, which, like his brand of humor, revolves around one man's struggle to balance fatherhood, stand-up comedy and an insatiable appetite. vFamous for his starring role in the Rush Hour movie series, Tucker will keep guests laughing with his hilarious outlook on life with two shows – one aboard Carnival Freedom in Grand Cayman Oct. 25 and another on Carnival Dream in Montego Bay Oct. 26. After moving to Los Angeles to pursue his dream, Tucker was a staple on the Def Comedy Jam series before breaking into movies and continuing his popular stand-up comedy career. Most recently, he starred in a self-titled comedy show, Chris Tucker – Live, on Netflix.

These performances complement an array of shows by a variety of musical artists taking place aboard eight Carnival ships over the coming months.

Cruise Ship Weddings More Popular Than Ever
When planning your dream wedding, here's a tip: You don't have to limit yourself to your own back yard. For the ultimate in romance, consider getting married on a cruise ship at sea or in an exotic cruise port of call. Cruise destination weddings are an increasingly popular choice for couples seeking both value and hassle-free planning. They are also a great way to stand out from the crowd, as in "Wow! You're getting married where?"

Cruise Ship Weddings More Popular Than EverThere's a reason that thousands of couples each year are holding their nuptials on cruise ships. Everything you need to plan and customize your wedding is already onboard from the florist to the caterer and bartenders to the hairdresser to the photographers – a floating creative team at your service.

Whether you go intimate, just the two of you or over-the-top with all your nearest and dearest, tying the knot on a cruise is about beautiful views, bonding and togetherness, with your honeymoon a built-in bonus. It's also about getting a great deal. Compare, for instance, a $25 per person luncheon at an intimate cruise ship specialty restaurant to what you'd pay for a topflight, multi-course meal on land.

More than 2.600 couples each year say their "I Dos" on Carnival Cruise Line ships alone. You can get married on embarkation day while your ship is in port – an option that allows non-sailing guests to help you celebrate without actually going on the cruise – or tie the knot in paradise, choosing from beach destinations in the Bahamas and several beautiful ports of call in the Caribbean.

Or for something completely different, consider a dream wedding at sea. Princess Cruises debuted the first-at-sea shipboard wedding chapel on the Grand Princess in 1998, and has been offering weddings onboard (and on shore) ever since. A "Love Boat" Captain – coined after the famous "Love Boat" TV show, which was filmed on a Princess Cruises ship – or other senior officer will conduct your at-sea ceremony, your commemorative marriage certificate detailing the coordinates of where you said your vows.

British line P&O Cruises is celebrating 10 years of shipboard weddings this year – the first couple married in April 2006 while cruising the Canaries. In the past decade, the British line has helped couples celebrate their shipboard nuptials with more than 7,000 bottles of champagne and thousands of wedding cakes.

On Cunard's three oceanliners, shipboard weddings take place on sea days, including during transatlantic crossings. Wedding packages packed with niceties include a White Star Bellman to escort the bride to the ceremony venue and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne.

Do your wedding on Holland America Line and happy couples become one in such exotic destinations as the pretty little white wedding chapel at the cruise line's private Bahamas island of Half Moon Cay. Or start your journey together at Bluebeard's Castle on St. Thomas; overlooking the sacred pond of King Kamehameha on Kona, Hawaii; or on top of a glacier in Juneau, Alaska.

Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Cairns, Newcastle, Fremantle and Auckland are places where passengers on P&O Cruises Australia ships can romantically tie the knot pierside on embarkation day.

The German line AIDA Cruises arranges wedding ceremonies shipboard in 10 ports, with backdrops including the spectacular beaches in Dubai, under the Greek sun or amidst the natural splendor of Norway.

Same sex couples will find options including commitment ceremonies and legal weddings. Carnival Cruise Line, for instance, can arrange legal ceremonies in select ports of call.

If you're already married, consider gathering your family and friends to witness a romantic vow renewal ceremony. For those not yet engaged, cruise lines can help you arrange and elaborate a surprise proposal.

It's all about creating memories of a lifetime.

Here are 10 tips for those considering a cruise ship wedding:

• Take a cruise. Start by test-driving the cruise experience, preferably on the ship you are considering for your big day. This is especially important if you have never been on a cruise.

• Survey your friends and family. See if your important people in your life will join you for your cruise wedding. With enough guests you may qualify for discount fares.

• Think about venue. Shipboard options may include the wedding chapel, library, clubs, lounges, restaurants, the open deck or other public spaces. Pick the venue that's right for you.

• Reserve space early. With cruise weddings an increasingly popular option, you'll want to start your planning as far in advance as possible.

• Use a travel agent. You'll need to reserve a block of staterooms, plan activities for diverse ages and make sure everyone gets to the ship on time. Consider calling in a pro.

• Listen to your wedding planner. Your cruise line will assign a wedding planner. She's your new BFF, the expert who is able to see the big picture and assure hassle-free planning.

• Make your wedding your own. Wedding packages outline the basics, but the sky is the limit in terms of custom-crafting your experience. Want ice sculptures and a string quartet? No problem. There's a shipboard creative team at your disposal.

• Reserve playtime. With family and friends along for the cruise, plan in advance so your party can dine together. Also consider booking everyone on a celebratory shore excursion.

• Share with others. Put your cruise on your bridal registry, so that friends and family back home can be part of the action. They may purchase onboard credits, which you can use for perks such as his-and-her massages (great for eliminating any pre-wedding jitters).

• Choose the right stateroom. You are celebrating a special event, so go with the best you can afford. A private balcony for your stateroom is worth the splurge.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.05 - 3.90
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 73.63 - 1.00%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 3.00 + 11.11%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 49.68 + 1.12%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
How many liners has Cunard named after Queens and what were the names?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
If you were departing on a transatlantic crossing from Pier 90 in New York City in the early 1950's, what shipping company would you most likely have been traveling on?

Answer - In the 1950's when you leave the pier 90, you were on a CUNARD Ocean Liner...
courtesy of Clement Mousset


Cruise News - February 29, 2016

Anthem of the Seas Cuts Second Cruise Short Due to Storms
Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas was forced to cut a second cruise short this month due to the company's new "enhanced storm avoidance policy" which was implemented after the cruise line was forced to cut short an earlier cruise due to rough weather.

Anthem of the Seas Cuts Second Cruise Short Due to StormsThat cruise, which left Cape Liberty, NJ on February 7th ran into an Atlantic storm with winds in excess of 120-mph. While Royal Caribbean said that the ship and crew performed very well during severe weather, hundreds of passengers complained about the rough onboard conditions to the news media and on social media. As a result the cruise line came under scrutiny for subjecting the passengers to the extreme conditions. Of more than 6000 people on board, only four minor injuries were reported.

In a statement issued at the time, Royal Caribbean claimed the severity of the storm "far exceeded forecasts" and pledged to re-evaluate its procedures for monitoring storms and added additional staff to its Miami headquarters to provide additional guidance to its ships' captains. The cruise line also announced that guests would receive a full refund & a future cruise certificate for 50% of the cruise fare paid.

In addition to the rough weather that was forecast to be in the path of this week's cruise, a number of passengers onboard were reportedly suffering from the norovirus virus although Royal Caribbean claims that did not play a part in the decision to cut the cruise short. It will be interesting to see what type of impact these two cancellations might have on future winter cruise schedules from Cape Liberty.

Norwegian Cruise Line Names World’s First Purpose-Built Liner for Chinese Market
Norwegian Cruise Line has unveiled the English and Chinese names for the world’s first purpose-built cruise liner for the China market. The most innovative ship ever styled exclusively for Chinese guests has been named ‘Norwegian Joy’ – translating into Chinese as (Xi Yuè Hào).The name Norwegian Joy emphasizes the experience that the ship will offer a promise that guests will ‘Experience Paradise on the Sea’.

The most innovative ship ever styled exclusively for Chinese guests has been named Norwegian Joy“After closely studying the Chinese cruise market for several years, we wanted to be clear about what we will deliver to our guests on this spectacular vessel,” said Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Chief Executive Officer Frank Del Rio. “Norwegian Joy will provide the same sense of freedom and flexibility found on all Norwegian Cruise Line ships, but with resort-style vacation experiences and amenities designed specifically with the Chinese guest in mind.”

With a capacity of 3,900 guests, the new Breakaway Plus-class vessel will debut in China in Summer 2017. Norwegian Joy is designed specifically for the Chinese traveler, with cuisine and onboard experiences that cater to the unique vacation preferences of Chinese guests. This unrivaled customization for the China market has involved detailed consultation with Chinese partners and local experts on the subtleties of Chinese culture and preferences.

The upscale cruise experience especially tailored for modern Chinese travelers extends from world-class entertainment to a wide range of specially curated fine international dining, unrivaled duty-free luxury shopping at sea and a new range of incredible first-at-sea activities onboard.

“Chinese guests will discover an unmatched quality of service, cuisine, entertainment and retail experience onboard Norwegian Joy that is simply not available in the China market today,” said Senior Vice President and Managing Director of China, David Herrera. “With Norwegian Joy, we will unquestionably offer our Chinese guests a superior product and introduce a new standard of innovation and excellence into what will soon be the world’s second largest cruise market.”

Additional details, including the ship’s homeport, accommodations, dining and entertainment will be shared in the coming months.

In addition to the ship name, NCL has also revealed a new Chinese name and logo exclusively for the mainland China market. The company’s name will be represented by characters (Nuò Wéi Zhen), translating as a ‘Promising, Exclusive and Authentic’ cruise line, which perfectly reflects the company’s dedication to offering the premier cruise product in China. Along with outstanding entertainment, dining and upscale accommodations, Norwegian Cruise Line is renowned for a unique style of cruising known as Freestyle Cruising that offers guests the freedom and flexibility to dine, shop and enjoy entertainment on their own time schedule in a fun, relaxed, and energetic atmosphere. Only on Norwegian can guests enjoy their vacation at their leisure, with no set dining times, a wide array of dining experiences and a variety of award-winning entertainment.

To support NCL’s expansion in China, the company has opened offices in Beijing (Guomao CBD) and Shanghai (Xintiandi), supporting all three brands in the company’s portfolio – Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Carnival Enhances CHEERS! All-Inclusive Beverage Program
Carnival Cruise Line has enhanced its CHEERS! all-inclusive beverage program to include a greater variety of non-alcoholic beverages, as well as a wider selection of high quality brand-name spirits and wines by the glass. The enhanced program will be available for purchase March 1, 2016.

Carnival Enhances CHEERS! All-Inclusive Beverage ProgramCHEERS! is an all-inclusive beverage program that allows guests to enjoy a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages by paying a flat daily rate. Guests must be 21 or older to purchase CHEERS! and everyone in the same cabin must purchase the program.

The following beverages are now available within the enhanced CHEERS! program:

• All spirits, including cocktails, cognacs, whiskies, and other spirits, as well as beer and glasses of wine, costing less than $50 per serving (previously only drinks costing less than $10 per serving were included in the program).

• Sodas, including specialty sodas offered at the Havana Bar on Carnival Sunshine and new Carnival Vista debuting in May

• Zero-proof frozen cocktails

• RockStar energy drinks

• Specialty coffees and teas served in the main dining rooms, specialty restaurants and coffee bars

• 500ml bottles of water served in bars and lounges

• Vitamin Water

• Powerade

• Coconut Water

• Honest Tea

• Large format (1 liter and 1.5-liter) bottles of water in the main dining rooms and specialty restaurants

25 percent discount off the menu price for any spirit, cocktail or wine by the glass costing more than $50 per serving

25 percent discount off the menu price for wine and champagne by the bottle and larger format water bottles purchased outside the main dining rooms or specialty restaurants

25 percent discount off the menu price for all beverage classes and seminars

The cost for guests who purchase the CHEERS! program via Carnival’s web site prior to their cruise is $49.95 per person per day plus gratuities; the cost for the program purchased once on board is $54.95 per person per day plus gratuities.

Crystal Cruises to Return to Northwest Passage In 2017
Crystal Cruises announced this week that it will return to the famed Northwest Passage in August 2017. Beginning August 15, 2017, Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity, will sail a 32-day expedition-style voyage traversing the Arctic Ocean from Anchorage/Seward, Alaska to New York City via the legendary route (500 miles north of the Arctic Circle), first completed successfully by Roald Amundsen more than 100 years ago. The announcement comes shortly after the cruise line's plans to reposition Crystal Serenity's 2017 voyages during the spring and summer to Alaska and coastal itineraries.

Crystal Cruises to Return to Northwest Passage In 2017"We are thrilled to offer intrepid luxury travelers a second opportunity to explore this historical sea passage," said Crystal's CEO and President Edie Rodriguez. "Given the tremendous response to our inaugural Northwest Passage sailing in 2016, it's clear that discerning travelers continue to value rare and memorable experiences as much as they prize unmatched luxury."

Beginning August 16, 2016 Crystal will be the largest luxury cruise line to ever navigate the route, maneuvering through 900 miles of majestic waterways lined with spectacular glaciers, towering fjords, and vast unspoiled landscapes away from mainstream civilization and tourism, north of mainland Canada.

In 2017, Crystal will again partner with Expedition Voyage Consulting by EYOS Expeditions, providers of bespoke expeditions to the most remote regions on Earth in safety and luxury, for the planning of the itinerary's shore-side adventures. Additionally, the line has diligently gathered information and resources from field experts, going so far as meeting with the Inuit elders of the Arctic, to create an expedition voyage that is rewarding and thrilling for guests while also remaining respectful to the local lands and cultures.

Following in the footsteps of intrepid explorers, the journey through once-unpassable waterways employs new or enhanced approaches to itinerary scheduling, destination visits, onboard offerings, and safety standards. The first call in the Canadian Arctic is planned for the Hamlet of Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, a settlement of just a few hundred people on the shores of the Amundsen Gulf, just 1,400 miles from the North Pole.

Ports-of-Call: Anchorage/Seward, Kodiak, Dutch Harbor, and Nome, Alaska; Ulukhaktok, NW Territories; Cambridge Bay and Pond Inlet, Nunavut; Ilulissat, Sisimiut, and Nuuk, Greenland; Bar Harbor, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island, and New York, New York.

Waterways: North Pacific Ocean; Bering Sea & Bering Strait; Chukchi & Beaufort Seas; Amundsen Gulf; Dolphin & Union Strait; Coronation Gulf; Dease Strait; Queen Maud Gulf; Victoria Strait; Larsen Sound; Franklin & Bellot Straits; Peel Sound; Parry Channel; Barrow Strait; Prince Regent Inlet; Lancaster Sound; Croker Bay; Navy Board Inlet; Eclipse Sound; Baffin Bay; Davis Strait; Labrador Sea; North Atlantic Ocean.

Royal Caribbean Unveils New Alaska Adventures For Summer 2017
For the 28th consecutive season, Royal Caribbean International will return to the Great Frontier, delivering the world's best vacation for adventure seekers, set against the backdrop of America's most picturesque shoreline landscape. Explorer of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas will each sail seven-night itineraries that bring the awe-inspiring Alaskan seascape to life and the state's rugged mysterious interior within reach to become real world adventures. Explorer of the Seas sails roundtrip from Seattle, and Radiance of the Seas sails from Vancouver, BC to Seward, AK and then from Seward, AK to Vancouver, BC. All itineraries open for sale on Feb. 26. Globetrotters eager to plan their 2017 summer travels will reap the benefits of complimentary upgrades as an incentive for early booking, in addition to the promotional offerings already underway.

Royal Caribbean Unveils New Alaska Adventures For Summer 2017New in 2017, two 12-night cruisetours exclusive to Royal Caribbean guests will take travelers to roads less traveled both with overnight stays in scenic Alaskan escapes before or after their cruise. The Kantishna Select Wilderness & Wildlife cruisetour unleashes the traveler's adventurous spirit to explore Denali's unspoiled wilderness with local experts. Guests hike the Exit Glacier, go on a kayak and bike adventure at Eklutna Lake and travel by rail from the Denali National Park and Preserve to Fairbanks. The cruisetour includes two nights of exclusive accommodations at a Kantishna backcountry lodge, amongst the finest wilderness lodges in the state, immediately after the cruise vacation. Nestled in an idyllic setting on the bend of a river, the lodge touts an inherent sense of history from deep within the National Park. The Katmai Bear Trek & Kantishna Fly Over cruisetour will bring to life the most sought after Alaska experience, the chance to witness the notorious American Brown Bear hunting in its natural habitat with an extraordinary close and unobstructed view in the Katmai Park and Preserve. Adventure-seekers taking part in the cruisetour will have two nights in Denali or Anchorage, before or after the cruise respectively, to explore these frontier destinations.

For the 28th consecutive season, Royal Caribbean International will return to the Great Frontier, delivering the world's best vacation for adventure seekers, set against the backdrop of America's most picturesque shoreline landscape.

Known for unexpected experiences found only on Royal Caribbean, the cruise line continues to transform the cruise experience by offering innovative ships combined with active immersive adventures in incredible destinations around the world. And there is no place like Alaska where the possibilities of discovery are uncovered traveling through forests, amidst gardens, over glaciers, up mountain passes and across lakes.

Vacationers have a vast array of destinations and excursions to add to their "must see and do" lists, including:

• Icy Straight Point: The world's longest zipline with a 1,320 ft. vertical drop, the ZipRider transports brave riders from mountain peak to harbor-side beach at 60 mph.

• Juneau: Bald eagles, bears, caribou, and sea lions, are part of the Alaska Big 5 wildlife list, but whale watching in Stephen's Passage is one of the most awe-inspiring wildlife experiences ever. Guests can enjoy this all-new shore excursion that brings them up-close-and-personal with humpback whales, sea lions, harbor seals, and more.

• Ketchikan: The largest wilderness in Alaska is the 2.3 million acre Misty Fjords which captures the breathtaking landscape from glacial blue lakes to waterfalls, rising to snowcapped peaks. The floatplane aerial view reveals the nuances of nature's color palette and textures, awarding the bragging rights travelers relish.

• Skagway: This town is so associated with the exhilaration of the Gold Rush that the town has become synonymous with rugged adventure. Travelers can take in the Tongass National Rainforest from the comfort of 4x4 vehicles or visit Musher's Camp for a hands-on lesson in dog sledding.

• Victoria, BC: The 100 year old Buchart Gardens is one of Canada's National Historic Sites having grown from a single rose bush to a verdant 55-acre oasis. Guests can enjoy self-guided tours of this enchanting botanical display.

• Explorer of the Seas, the 15-deck, 1,557-stateroom ship which accommodates 3,840 guests was revitalized in 2015 to bring signature Royal Caribbean innovations like the FlowRider surf simulator, virtual balconies for interior staterooms and a variety of new dining experiences onboard.

• Radiance of the Seas, the 13-deck, 1,071-stateroom ship accommodating 2,466 guests offers a 220 sq. foot, poolside movie screen, in addition to the signature rock-climbing wall, spa and multiple dining venues for which the cruise line is known.

Viking River Cruises Launches Six New Ships
Viking River Cruises today welcomed the latest additions to its fleet with the christening of six new Viking Longships during a waterfront celebration in Amsterdam. Recognizing the contribution the travel trade has made to the growth of the river cruise industry, Viking honored six of its key partners by naming them as ceremonial godmothers for the six new ships.

Viking River Cruises Launches Six New ShipsThis christening event marks another year of impressive expansion for Viking, occurring just two years after the company set a second GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for the most new ships launched in a single day, and just one month before Viking Ocean Cruises launches its second ship, Viking Sea. Of the six new Longships, four will be deployed on Viking's most popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers; the remaining two will sail the Seine River on Viking's Paris and the Heart of Normandy itinerary. Later this month, Viking will also debut a seventh new river ship for 2016, Viking Osfrid, which is inspired by the Longships design and specifically built for the Douro River, bringing the company's total number of ships in Portugal to three.

"River cruising remains one of the fastest-growing segments of travel, and we would not be the leading river cruise line without the help of travel agents," said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking Cruises. "The naming of ships by ceremonial godmothers is a naval tradition that dates back thousands of years. The partners we have chosen to name our newest ships are experts in their field, and as Viking has marketed the concept of river cruises over the last two decades, they have always recognized our value in the industry. We are honored to have their support and their participation in this year's celebration."

Viking Godmothers

The prominent women who will serve as Viking Longship godmothers represent travel trade organizations from across North America and the United Kingdom and include:

• Lisa Anciaux, Godmother of Viking Rolf, is the Director of Travel Products for AAA Washington.
• Beth Butzlaff, Godmother of Viking Kadlin, is the Managing Director of Cruise Sales for Virtuoso.
• Michelle Chimko, Godmother of Viking Alruna, is the Chief Operating Officer of Alberta Motor Association.
• Jennifer Gasser, Godmother of Viking Egil, is the Vice President of Supplier Relations and Product Operations for World Travel Holdings.
• Beryl Gibson, Godmother of Viking Vilhjalm, is the Joint Owner of Northumbria Travel Limited.
• Sinead O'Connell, Godmother of Viking Tialfi, is the Director of Industry Relations for Vacation.com.

Cunard Announces QM2 Independence Day Cruise to Feature Political Heavy-Weights
Cunard is thrilled to announce that "love & war" will come to the high seas when Mary Matalin and James Carville set sail as Insights speakers onboard Queen Mary 2. Departing New York on July 1, 2016 on a roundtrip cruise, Queen Mary 2 will visit Halifax and overnight in Boston for guests to enjoy the city's famed Independence Day Celebration.

Cunard Announces Independence Day Celebration Cruise to Feature Political Heavy-WeightsMary Matalin and James Carville are of America's most well-known political voices and political consultants, as well as authors of two national bestsellers, All's Fair: Love, War, and Running for President and Love & War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home. Known for their two distinct voices, Matalin and Carville will join guests onboard Queen Mary 2 for a discussion titled "Perspectives on the Modern Presidency" and Q&A with the Entertainment Manager as part of the ship's Insights programme.

Among her many roles and accomplishments, Mary Matalin served under President Ronald Reagan, made her mark as George H.W. Bush's Campaign director and was an assistant to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. She has made numerous appearances on NBC's Meet the Press and hosted CNN's critically-acclaimed debate show, Crossfire.

James "The Ragin' Cajun" Carville is an American political commentator and media personality who is a prominent figure in the Democratic Party. His most prominent victory was in 1992 when he helped Bill Clinton win the Presidency. Currently, Carville is a contributor to This Week with George Stephanopoulos and is also a Professor of Practice at Tulane University in New Orleans.

"Cunard is honored to host such distinguished American political experts onboard our flagship, Queen Mary 2," comments Richard Meadows, president of Cunard North America. "Matalin and Carville have captured the American public for decades with their dueling political views and successful marriage, and we are excited to share their insight and unique personalities with our guests."

Queen Mary 2 will be fresh off a 25-day dry dock and extensive refurbishment. Debuting on the ship will be 15 new single cabins, 30 additional Britannia Club Staterooms, an expanded kennel, a refreshed Kings Court, the new Verandah restaurant and Carinthia Lounge. Remastered design and décor will also be featured throughout the Grill suites and restaurants, as well as all Britannia staterooms. Executive Chef Nicolas Oldroyd will also be introducing new menus across the ship with new ingredients, selections and more choice, from pub menus to fine dining.

Financial Highlights
On January 14, 2016, Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.30 (U.S.) per share. The dividend is payable on March 11, 2016, to shareholders of record on February 19, 2016.

Holders of Carnival Corporation common stock or Carnival plc ADSs will receive a dividend payable in U.S. dollars. The dividend for Carnival plc ordinary shares will be payable in sterling unless shareholders elected to receive the dividend in U.S. dollars by February 19, 2016.

Dividends payable in sterling will be converted from U.S. dollars at the exchange rate quoted by the Bank of England in London at 12 noon on March 1, 2016 (US$1 = 71.57171 pence). Accordingly, the dividend payable in sterling on March 11, 2016, will be 21.47151 pence per share.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 48.96 + 2.58%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 74.37 + 0.88%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.70 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 49.13 + 11.46%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
If you were departing on a transatlantic crossing from Pier 90 in New York City in the early 1950's, what shipping company would you most likely have been traveling on?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the name of the first ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line (then called Norwegian Caribbean)?

Answer - The first ship in the NCL (Norwegian Caribbean Line) fleet was the Sunward...not to be confused with the Sunward II.
courtesy of Carlos Ortega, Miami, Florida


Cruise News - February 22, 2016

Seabourn Holds Traditional Maritime Coin Ceremony For Newbuild
Seabourn marked a major construction milestone for its newest vessel, Seabourn Encore, this week with the traditional, time-honored coin ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy, where two commemorative gold coins were welded to the ship's mast. Seabourn Encore is set to begin sailing in December 2016.

Seabourn Holds Traditional Maritime Coin Ceremony For NewbuildThe longstanding tradition also calls for a "madrina" to preside over the coin ceremony. Serving in this important role was Marnie Tihany, the director of business development for Tihany Design and the wife of Adam D. Tihany, the prominent hospitality designer who is carrying out the line's design vision to create stunning and beautiful spaces throughout Seabourn Encore.

"The coin ceremony represents not only another momentous milestone in the construction of our beautiful new ship, but also an important step in the evolution of our fleet and our leadership in the ultra-luxury cruise category," said Seabourn President Richard Meadows. "With less than a year until the launch of Seabourn Encore, we look forward to more exciting milestones in the coming months."

Seabourn Encore is being fashioned by hospitality design icon Adam D. Tihany, with contemporary interiors and modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance. The ship will expand and build on the line's award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionized ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalized service by close to one staff member for each guest on board. The 40,350-GRT ship will be configured with one additional deck and new expanded public areas, and is expected to carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda.

Carnival Magic To Undergo Multi-Million Dollar Renovation
In preparation for its Space Coast debut this spring, the 130,000-ton Carnival Magic will undergo an extensive multi-million-dollar dry dock that will add a variety of exciting dining and bar innovations, including Guy's Burger Joint, RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, Pizzeria del Capitano and the Alchemy Bar.

Carnival Magic To Undergo Multi-Million Dollar RenovationCurrently sailing from Galveston, Texas, Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral, Fla., in April 2016 to begin year-round Caribbean departures from that port.

"Carnival Magic is already a groundbreaking ship – it was the first to feature our popular Cucina del Capitano Italian restaurant, the Caribbean-themed RedFrog Pub and SportSquare outdoor recreation facility – and with these new features we're making this spectacular floating resort even better," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "Following this extensive refurbishment, Carnival Magic will offer even more exciting on-board choices for travel agents to market to their clients," she added.

The two-week dry dock will take place from Feb. 21 to March 6, 2016, and will add exciting new spaces, including:

• Guy's Burger Joint: a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries in an atmosphere that celebrates the chef's California roots and love of car culture

• RedFrog Rum Bar: a poolside bar offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival's own ThirstyFrog Red

• BlueIguana Tequila Bar: a fun and festive outdoor watering hole offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin' by the pool

• Pizzeria del Capitano: an expansion of the line's Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian eatery offering five varieties of hand-tossed artisanal-style pizza, all available free of charge 24 hours a day

• Alchemy Bar: a vintage-themed cocktail "pharmacy" that's the go-to spot for guests seeking a unique experience with mixologists who "prescribe" concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients or guests' own custom-created cocktails

All of these new spaces complement the Carnival Magic's array of on-board features, including the SportSquare outdoor recreation area with a suspended ropes course offering views to the sea 150 feet below; a 22,750-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa with a thalassotherapy pool, thermal suite and 17 private treatment rooms; the RedFrog Pub where guests can enjoy a frosty brew while soaking up the bar's Key West meets British West Indies vibe; a massive WaterWorks aqua park highlighted by a 312-foot-long Twister slide; the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez offering both family-friendly and adult performances; and a Serenity adults-only retreat.

The ship also offers a variety of family-friendly options, including expansive modern spaces for kids in three age groups: Camp Ocean (ages 2-11), Circle "C" (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17), along with Seuss at Sea, part of the line's exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

Carnival Magic will continue its seven-day schedule from Galveston through April 10, 2016 then reposition to Port Canaveral to launch year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises beginning April 23, 2016. Prior to launching its new seven-day schedule from Port Canaveral, Carnival Magic will operate a special three-day cruise to Nassau April 20-23, 2016.

Carnival Magic will offer two distinctly different week-long itineraries from the Space Coast – a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove.

Harmony of the Seas to Offer Familiar and New Features
Harmony of the Seas is Royal Caribbean International’s latest architectural and nautical marvel, boasting spectacular onboard features and programming. Distinctive to the Oasis-class ships is the exclusive and unique neighborhood concept – seven main themed areas providing guests with the opportunity to seek out a variety of relevant experiences based on their personal styles, preferences or moods. The following highlights the seven neighborhoods onboard the Oasis-class ships and exciting new features guests can expect onboard Harmony of the Seas.

Harmony of the Seas to Offer Familiar and New FeaturesPOOL AND SPORTS ZONE - Stretching the length of the ship, the Pool and Sports Zone is an ample playground for guests of all ages, featuring four unique types of pools, two FlowRider surf simulators, a zip line, amazing views of Boardwalk and Central Park below, plus the introduction of a trio of water slides as well as The Ultimate Abyss.

• Perhaps the most anticipated feature onboard Harmony of the Seas is The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide on the high seas, which will intimidate the bravest of guests and challenge them to prove their courage. Towering more than 150 feet above sea level, overlooking the AquaTheater at the aft of the ship, the pair of side-by-side slides will release adrenaline-seeking travelers into a chilling 100-foot drop that twists and turns in a serpentine-like movement from the Pool and Sports Zone on Deck 16 to the Boardwalk on Deck 6 below.
• The Perfect Stormtrio of water slides also will thrill guests of all ages. These multi-story waterslides all twist and turn over Central Park 10 decks below, with one slide featuring a champagne bowl that swirls guests around as they make their approach to the end of the ride.
• Families looking for fun in the sun will be delighted by Splashaway Bay, a vibrant waterscape for kids and toddlers with sea creature water cannons, winding slides, a gigantic drench bucket and a multi-platform jungle-gym to keep everyone entertained for hours.
• The first zip lines at sea take guests on an exhilarating ride across an open-air atrium suspended nine decks high above Boardwalk – a distance of more than 82 feet (25 meters).
• The adults-only Solarium features a three-deck high, glass-paneled enclave designed with seating on various “islands” surrounded by water, providing guests with the sensation of floating on air. The open-air Solarium offers a tranquil swimming pool, two serene whirlpools, and four cantilevered whirlpools suspended 136 feet (41.5 meters) above the ocean.
• The Sports Deck also boasts Royal Caribbean favorites, including two FlowRider surf simulators, a nine-hole miniature golf course, and the Sports Court, which allows for friendly games of basketball, volleyball and soccer.

BOARDWALK - This breathtaking neighborhood was inspired by both the seaside piers that dot the coast of England and the nostalgic boardwalks of yesteryear such as Coney Island. Boardwalk is an area for the entire family, whether young or just young at heart, to enjoy together. The elements of the Boardwalk are a dynamic way to engage families in classic fun with a colorful original carousel as well as casual eateries, retail outlets and carnival games. Signature elements of the Boardwalk include:

• A remarkable outdoor venue at the stern of the ship with a backdrop of the ocean across the horizon, AquaTheater is an amphitheater-style entertainment space celebrating water with a full spectrum of activities including water and light shows, professional aquatic acrobatic and synchronized swimming performances. One of the most technologically-advanced areas of the ship,

• AquaTheater is a complete sensory experience that plays on the element of surprise, as the latest technology and design features amaze audience members.
• For the young at heart, the Boardwalk features a custom-made carousel handcrafted from poplar wood just for Royal Caribbean. The full-sized, traditional carousel features 18 figures suspended from stainless steel poles showcasing a time-honored menagerie of animals.
• A selection of dining venues is available within Boardwalk, including the Royal Caribbean staple Johnny Rockets, as well as Sabor Modern Mexican, and Starbucks Coffee.
• Two signature rock-climbing walls flank the AquaTheater, providing a more unique experience with multiple climbing routes. Each rock wall measures 43 feet tall (13.1 meters).

Central Park - Royal Caribbean brings the outdoors in with Central Park, a revolutionary design in which the center of the ship opens to the sky and features lush, tropical grounds spanning more than the length of a football field. An upscale exquisite public gathering place featuring serene pathways, seasonal flower gardens and canopy trees, Central Park provides guests with more choices in a unique outdoor space. Combined with an incredible array of retail, entertainment and dining venues, as well as quiet nooks for reading and relaxing, Central Park is one of the ship’s most groundbreaking spaces.

• The park’s central piazza is the ship’s “town square,” which at night evolves into a gathering space for alfresco dining and entertainment.
• Central Park is home to some of the ship’s most popular specialty dining restaurants. Venues including 150 Central Park, Chops Grille and Vintages can be found here, as well as the addition of Jamie’s Italian, a Quantum-class favorite by world-renowned chef Jamie Oliver.
• Popular among guests, Dazzles is a spectacular venue – spanning three decks – with an expansive floor-to-ceiling window offering breathtaking views of the Boardwalk below. Located near Central Park, the dedicated dance lounge offers a variety of musical experiences ranging from 1940’s big band to disco to ballroom evenings. During the day, Dazzles is open for guests to enjoy the view of the bustling activity on the Boardwalk over a drink or to learn a new dance move with a professional dance instructor.

ROYAL PROMENADE - A natural but significant evolution of the line’s signature Royal Promenade featured on the cruise line’s Voyager- and Freedom-class ships, the design found on Harmony allows guests to have a physical connection with the neighborhood above – Central Park – as natural light cascades down from the sky.

• Harmony of the Seas is the first Oasis-class ship to feature the futuristic Bionic Bar, a technology-forward venue complete with two robotic bartenders that shake, muddle and mix a wide variety of drinks made just to order.
• The Rising Tide Bar – the world’s first moving bar at sea – is an engineering feat that spans three decks and allows cruisers to enjoy a cocktail as they slowly move between Central Park on deck eight and the Royal Promenade on deck five.
• Located towards the aft of the Royal Promenade, a mezzanine level allows for sweeping views of the Promenade and features the cruise line’s signature Schooner Bar.
• Dining options include Sorrento’s and Café Promenade.

ENTERTAINMENT PLACE - Entertainment Place is the life of the ship after dark. This contemporary nightclub district features signature after-dark spaces in more intimate venues, delivering a variety of entertainment each night and providing guests the opportunity to customize their evening experiences.

• Seating 1,380 guests, the Royal Theater is home to two headline shows: an all-new, never-before-seen stage production of Grease specially adapted by Royal Caribbean Productions, as well as Columbus, The Musical!, a comedic, original Royal Caribbean production that recounts the imagined history of Marvin Columbus, Christopher’s fictional, down-on-his-luck, distant cousin.
• Studio B will be home to two new ice skating extravaganzas. 1887 is an original Royal Caribbean ice skating production about love and adventure that begins in Paris on February 14, 1887 at the height of the career of Jules Verne. The iSkate Showcase is an ice show unlike any other where Royal Caribbean’s talented skaters put their best blade forward in a dazzling showcase of their very best moves set to their own favorite tunes. The cast goes rogue and anything can happen!
• Inspired by prohibition-era Chicago, Jazz on 4, provides an intimate experience as guests enjoy soulful Jazz & Blues rhythms.
• Those in need of a good belly laugh will be drawn to Comedy Live, the comedy club where headline acts interact with the audience to provide engaging and customized performances each evening. Youth zone - A haven for children and teens, this spacious home to the award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program features a wealth of kid- and teen-friendly adventures than ever seen on a cruise ship.

• Adventure Ocean program age groups each have its own dedicated space: Royal Babies and Tots, ages six months to two years; Aquanauts, ages 3 to 5; Explorers, ages 6 to 8; and Voyagers, ages 9 to 11.
• Royal Babies and Royal Tots is the cruise line’s nursery for infants and toddlers (six months or older). This colorful space serves as a fully-staffed nursery where children can be left in the care of Royal Caribbean’s trained professionals, and also is the venue for various playgroups for babies and tots. Open daily, the nursery offers parents childcare drop-off options in the daytime and evening, carefully maintaining an optimum staff-to-child ratio.
• Harmony of the Seas will feature common play areas, including Imagination Studio where children can explore the world of color and imagination through arts and crafts; a fully-equipped lab for Adventure Science Lab, where Einsteins-in-the-making can expand their knowledge; Play, a circular area where children can rollick and participate in a variety of sports and games; and Adventure Ocean Theater, the first-ever children’s theater at sea.
• Longtime favorite Royal Caribbean teen-only spaces, Fuel Disco and The Living Room, return aboard Harmony of the Seas. A spacious outdoor deck adjacent to these venues gives teens the freedom and opportunity to find new friends while on their cruise vacation.

Vitality AT SEA SPA AND FITNESS CENTER - The Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness neighborhood encompasses various amenities that support healthy lifestyles and cater to complete body wellness. Here guests can soothe mind, body and soul through the most advanced spa and anti-aging therapies, the latest fitness equipment and healthy dining options.

• The Vitality at Sea Spa includes a Thermal Suite, featuring heated ceramic loungers, saunas and steam rooms; 29 treatment rooms including three couples massage suites and seven individual treatment rooms – the largest collection at sea.
• As a precursor to any treatment, guests are encouraged to begin the spa experience by unwinding in the calming relaxation rooms.
• Kids and teens have a dedicated spa of their own, YSPA, in which to enjoy specially catered services.
• The Fitness Center offers vacationers a plentiful and varied selection of exercise machines including the latest cardio and resistance equipment for working out alone or for joining one of the several classes, such as spinning, kickboxing, Pilates and yoga.

For More Cruise Passengers, Volunteering Combines Vacations With Giving Back
Grab a piña colada and relax on the sun deck of a cruise ship, but reserve some time to lend a helping hand. For many people, cruising takes on new meaning when you, for instance, hit the dance floor to help raise money for children's disease research on Carnival Cruise Line ships or join fellow passengers on a walk to raise money for cancer organizations on Holland America Line.

Why do cruise vacations and volunteering go hand in hand?

For More Cruise Passengers, Volunteering Combines Vacations With Giving Back"For me it's simple. Life is not complete unless you are helping others," said Michelle Sutter, a long-time volunteer in such activities as mentoring single mother refugees from Africa and now a staffer for the new social impact-focused cruise line Fathom from Carnival Corporation. "Fun is an understatement. The experience of volunteering feeds your soul."

The ultimate do-good, feel-good experience is on Fathom, a cruise line created specifically for people who love to travel and want to make a difference in the world. On the 704-passenger Adonia, set to debut on cruises from Miami to the Dominican Republic in April, passengers will have opportunity to spend up to three days helping locals. And starting May 1, Carnival Corporation is planning to launch Fathom cruises to Cuba with guests participating in specially designed cultural exchange activities.

Included are on-the-ship seminars and organized experiences on land. In the Dominican Republic, for instance, Fathom travelers will volunteer to teach conversational English to kids in nearby schools, assist local entrepreneurs at, for instance, a chocolate cooperative, and make water filters out of locally sourced clay and other materials, help with forestation projects and participate in other one-on-one activities – with time, if a traveler chooses, to spend on the beach or in cultural pursuits.

While Fathom is one end of the spectrum, cruise passengers of all ages have long shown a propensity to give back.

Little effort is often required. On ultra-luxury line Seabourn, for instance, you can take a ship-organized tour to a UNESCO World Heritage Site such as the World of Gaudi (including Sagrada Familia Cathedral) in Barcelona, and the line will make a small donation on your behalf to the UNESCO World Heritage Fund.

In Germany, AIDA Cruises passengers can participate in New Year's Eve fundraising raffles to raise money for the German-based SOS Children's Villages, in support of refugee and disaster relief. Through the non-profit Association of AIDA Friends of the Ocean, guests and cruise line employees also have opportunity to assist environmental and marine conservation efforts including beach cleanups.

The "Born to Knit" program on P&O Cruises Australia ships encourages socializing as a group while they knit blankets for newborn babies on the island nation of Vanuatu, one of the destinations the line's ships visit. For $10, passengers can purchase a knitting kit and instructions. Hundreds of blankets have been completed and donated to the maternity ward of the Vila Central Hospital in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Through the P&O Cruises Pacific Partnership, the line also supports Save the Children's efforts on Vanuatu. A $1 donation is added to every adult passenger's shipboard account. Guests can choose to opt out or up the amount. In addition, the navigational chart is auctioned at the end of every sailing to raise money for the charity. The line is on track to raise $1 million by the end of the year – donations so far going to build kindergartens as well as an aid post and health dispensary on remote islands.

Passengers on Carnival Cruise Line ships in the sunny Caribbean and other destinations can join fun "Groove for St. Jude" dance parties ($10 donation) to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. Carnival Cruise Line has raised more than $8 million for St. Jude since 2010, and has set a fundraising goal of $15 million by 2020. Kids onboard can do their part by purchasing (or encouraging parents to purchase) a keepsake, build-your-own stuffed bear, with proceeds going to St. Jude.

Carnival Cruise Line also recently joined forces with seven-time Grammy Award-winning country music superstar Carrie Underwood to support American military families, through the non-profit Operation Homefront – special dog tags – inscribed with Honor. Family. Fun. -- can be purchased on the line's ships and donations can also be made via Carnival.com/HonorFamilyFun.

With "On Deck for a Cause," Holland America Line passengers and employees have raised more than $4.7 million since 2006, for six cancer organizations in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany and the U.K. On each sailing, passengers donate $20 to join the walk and receive a t-shirt, wristband and post-walk reception. In 2016, the line's ships will host more than 500 such events.

Princess Cruises' shipboard "On Deck for a Cure" raises money for the fight against breast cancer via the Susan G. Komen Foundation, passengers participating in organized 5k deck walks (for a donation of $15). On each voyage, a nautical chart of the cruise, signed by the captain and senior officers, is auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting the non-profit Princess Cruises Community Foundation, which supports worldwide charities and disaster relief.

There are also ways to volunteer off the ship. Holland America passengers can book "Cruise With Purpose" shore excursions, small-group outings where you might, for instance, board a research boat in Juneau, Alaska, and assist scientists by drawing plankton samples or using a GPS camera to identify whales and record their behaviors.

Cunard Announces QM2 Independence Day Cruise to Feature Political Heavy-Weights
Leaders in the field of haute couture, currently preparing for London Fashion Week on February 19-23, will join Cunard's Queen Mary 2 7-night Transatlantic crossing in September to New York, the style capital of the world. The inaugural 'Transatlantic Fashion Week' voyage will arrive in the Big Apple the very same day New York Fashion Week 2016 begins.

Dame Zandra Rhodes prepares for London Fashion Week and Transatlantic Fashion WeekAward winning British fashion designer, Dame Zandra Rhodes, who has dressed some the world's most famous musicians, will treat guests to 'an audience with' as she discusses her impressive career.

Preparing to show her latest collection at London Fashion Week, the award designer spoke about her excitement at joining this special voyage:

"Guests are going to be able to look forward to a fantastic fashion experience," said Rhodes. "I'm going to be doing a dress show, as well as doing a talk with the fabulous Colin McDowell. Guests will have the chance to dine with all these specialists in the industry, ask questions from us all. I'm there to enhance everyone's experience."

Joining the line-up of fashion royalty is the highly respected fashion historian and commentator Colin McDowell and Fern Mallis, the 'Godmother of Fashion' and founder of New York Fashion Week.

As Dame Zandra Rhodes reveals designs from her collections, emerging faces from Storm modelling agency will take to the catwalk during the voyage. Alongside these great fashion authorities, guests will also have the opportunity to meet the designers of the future, as students from the world's number one postgraduate fashion programme, based in the world's number one university of art and design, The Royal College of Art, showcase their latest collections on board.

"Cunard has long been associated with style, a sense of occasion and the enriching experiences we deliver to our guests," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. "We are pleased to welcome on board such venerable fashion industry experts, so that our guests have the opportunity to gain insight into the glamourous world of fashion whilst immersing themselves in stylish designs and world-renowned White Star Service of the newly remastered Queen Mary 2."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.73 + 6.02%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 73.72 + 1.67%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.70 + 0.37%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 44.08 + 8.68%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the first ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line (then called Norwegian Caribbean)?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the name of Princess Cruises' first ship and where did she operate?

Answer - The ship was the Princess Patricia, an old Canadian Pacific steamship
courtesy of cant@sympatico.ca


Cruise News - February 15, 2016

Princess Cruises Debuts Cook My Catch
Princess Cruises announced today the launch of Cook My Catch, an exclusive culinary experience offering guests the ability to enjoy their very own catch of the day while on vacation with the leading cruise line in Alaska.

Princess Cruises Debuts Cook My CatchThe unique cruise dining experience is available on Princess cruise vacations during port calls in Juneau and Ketchikan, as well as Princess Land & Sea Vacations featuring stays at Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge and Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge. The new offering is available on select Princess shore excursions including Salmon Sport Fishing Adventure in Juneau; Salmon Sport Fishing Expedition, Hunting for Halibut and the Discovery Exclusive Alaska Fishing & Wilderness Dining excursion in Ketchikan. As guests return from their excursion, they select their preferred preparation and accompaniments to be prepared by the culinary team – a unique way to enjoy their very own, wild Alaska seafood.

Cook My Catch is just one of many enhancements Princess is making to the award-winning North to Alaska program in 2016. The program, which partners with local experts to feature a variety of authentic Alaska culinary, educational and entertainment experiences, is designed to delve deeper into the fascinating frontier guests are exploring around them.

"The newest North to Alaska offerings, including Cook My Catch, truly demonstrates our commitment to provide our guests authentic local experiences in the destinations we visit," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises' president. "Alaska offers so many opportunities to create lifetime memories ultimately ensuring our guests 'come back new'."

New 2016 North to Alaska highlights also include:

Meet the Mountain Climber - Guests traveling on a Princess Land & Sea Vacation can gather in the new Hudson Theater at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge to enjoy an interactive presentation by mountain climbers who have conquered Denali. Participants will hear the storied tales of survival on the mountain, view photos and try authentic climber equipment. After the show, guests head outside to view a retired airplane similar to those used to transport climbers to and from base camp.

Puppies in the Piazza - Princess guests meet some of Skagway's newest sled dogs on board a cruise to Alaska in 2016. Guests will have the opportunity to interact with the animals, take pictures and meet the dog handlers responsible for training them to be the next generation of Iditarod champions.

In total, six Princess cruise ships, offer more than 120 Alaska cruise departures during the summer season, May – September, originating from San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver B.C. and Whittier (Anchorage), Alaska.

Crystal Reveals New Calls for 2017 World Cruise
Crystal Cruises continues to explore the world in new ways, calling in new locales, even for its 22nd annual World Cruise in 2017. Four new ports, to be precise, are part of Crystal Serenity's "Southern Celebración" voyage (which sails in full, 94 days round-trip from Miami on January 10). The marathon journey travels an intensive route through some of the most historically and culturally rich cities and ports in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, the Caribbean and even Antarctica, offering travelers an ideal opportunity to explore the storied region thoroughly, calling the luxurious award-winning Crystal ship "home base" along the way.

Castro (Chiloe Island), Chile"Whether one is venturing to a region for the first time or is seeking new ways to explore long-beloved destinations, there are always new places to see and new cultures to encounter," says Crystal president and CEO Edie Rodriguez. "The 2017 World Cruise voyages offer guests the valuable opportunity to experience a diverse and holistic journey, with the varied history and traditions among the countries visited, while also fully engaging with the customs and beauty of South America as a region."

Crystal's maiden call destinations on the 2017 World Cruise are:

Santo Tomás de Castilla, Guatemala – Set along the Caribbean coastline between Honduras and Belize, this relatively remote spot boasts a down-to-earth atmosphere that will give travelers a glimpse of the authentic Guatemalan lifestyle, complete with rugged adventures, ancient UNESCO-listed Mayan ruins, and exotic foliage and wildlife at one's fingertips. Among the ways to immerse oneself in the local culture are snorkeling, horseback riding on the beach and kayaking in the warm coastal waters.

Matarani, Peru – The small fishing port of Matarani is your gateway to one of the most stunning spots on the Peruvian map: Arequipa, the UNESCO-listed town surrounded by three volcanoes, each towering at heights of around 20,000 feet. An adventurous, architectural and intellectual hub, Arequipa boasts a pretty town center featuring brilliant white buildings made of volcanic stone called sillar, and famously draws thinkers and diplomats, along with climbers and adventurers to its iconic sites.

Iquique, Chile – Iquique's mining history evokes a vibe reminiscent of the American Old-West, while restored Georgian and Victorian architecture, duty-free shopping, wide swaths of beach and a sea with terrific surfing and paragliding, balance the atmosphere with that of a classically welcoming Latin beach community.

Castro Island (Chiloé), Chile – Situated on the island of Chiloé, Castro is Chile's third oldest city in continued existence. Castro's history is tangible and resplendent UNESCO World Heritage Sites, its palafitos, or traditional wooden houses built on stilts, and renowned archaeological and contemporary art museums showcasing the island's diverse and innovative culture.

Port Adventures Immerse Disney Cruise Guests in Rich Alaskan Culture, Heritage and Adventure
During 2016 Alaska sailings, Disney Cruise Line guests can experience the beauty of Alaska in a way only Disney can provide with exclusive, one-of-a-kind Port Adventures.

Port Adventures are designed for Disney Cruise Line guests to make the most of their time ashore. Disney Cruise Line partners work with local tour operators to highlight each port of call, and create hassle-free, interactive adventures for families to enjoy.

Disney Wonder in AlaskaFor the 2016 Alaska season, all ports of call include tours that feature distinctly Disney touches, beloved characters and rich storytelling to help bring local culture and customs to life. Signature Collection tours range from deluxe experiences in intimate, upscale settings to customized tours that are enhanced with experiences exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests.

Skagway - A historic pathway that winds through the snow-capped mountains bordering Alaska is the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail. At the camp, nestled beside a waterfall, guests are delightfully entertained by a cast of sourdoughs and dance hall girls as they tell classic stories of the gold rush era and local tall tales through hilarious puppetry and live music. After the show, a fun scavenger hunt through the camp sets the stage for a gold-panning expedition joined by classic Disney characters, with everyone guaranteed to find the precious metal in every pan. Guests find their fortune, and gather around the campfire to roast marshmallows, and enjoy an all-you-can-eat feast featuring freshly grilled Alaskan salmon.

On the White Pass and Yukon Route, guests take a vintage railroad car 3,000 feet to the summit of White Pass while weaving through cliff-hanging turns to witness rushing waterfalls and towering mountains. Guests retrace the original route of the Klondike Gold Rush where they envision the path of the early prospectors seeking their fortune. During the return trip, children ride in their own car with Disney Cruise Line youth counselors, and take part in sing-alongs, games and stories of the gold rush age. Adults relax and toast a glass of champagne or cider, and receive a unique ornament welcoming them into the White Pass Summit Club.

For families looking to bring out their competitive side, the Klondike Family Challenge is full of immersive activities paired with fun challenges, like panning for gold and playing with Iditarod sled dogs. A tour of the Klondike Gold Fields brewery follows, where guests sample fresh brews and design their own root beer labels. Disney Cruise Line families leave their mark by etching their name into a wooden plank to leave at the site’s gold panning shed.

Juneau - Only Disney Cruise Line guests get to live the life of an Iditarod champion during the Glacier Dog Musher for a Day Port Adventure. On this excursion, guests are transported by helicopter over the massive Juneau Icefield to one of the region’s most breathtaking glaciers. Atop the glacier, they are greeted by the crew and sled dogs of the Iditarod, and then follow their new furry friends to the camp for a behind-the-scenes tour of the kennel, cookhouse and veterinary clinic. After a backstage look of the camp, guests prepare their new canine companions for an unforgettable day of mushing. Once the dogs are fed, harnessed and cleared for the trail, mushers take guests on an exhilarating, once-in-a-lifetime adventure across the pristine snow-capped glacier.

Untouched Alaskan wilderness awaits at Taku Glacier Lodge, a remote outpost directly across from the picturesque Hole-In-The-Wall Glacier and surrounded by the Tongass National Forest. Guests enjoy a meal of wild Alaska king salmon, and hear stories of the lodge’s rich history and lively characters, such as Mary Joyce, a legendary adventurer who made a 1,000-mile dogsled journey from Juneau to Fairbanks in the 1930s.

Teens gear up for the ultimate adventure during the Teen Exclusive Ultimate Canopy & Zip Line Expedition. Accompanied by their favorite Disney Cruise Line youth counselors, teens embark on an adrenaline-pumping, high-flying adventure overlooking Juneau’s magnificent landscape that includes 10 zip lines, two towering sky bridges over lofty tree platforms and a thrilling repel to the ground.

Ketchikan - In Ketchikan, Disney Cruise Line guests discover the rich culture and heritage of Annette Island, home to the only native reservation in Alaska. A signature Port Adventure gives guests a rare glimpse into a working village of the Tsimshian people. During this exclusive experience, guests learn about the lives and language of the culture through song and dance, create their very own drums, and learn a few words of the native language, Smalgyax.

On the Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour in Ketchikan, guests look on as professional fishermen haul in the catch of the day in 700-pound king crab pots. An on-deck aquarium becomes the crabs’ temporary home, providing an up-close look and a chance to hold the crabs and snap a photo. After a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship, including a photo in the captain’s chair, Disney Cruise Line guests have an exclusive opportunity to dine with the crew and listen to telling stories about life on the Bering Sea over freshly caught King crab and Dungeness crab.

Several Ketchikan excursions include a visit to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, a rollicking competition created especially for families that features some of the world’s top timber sport athletes going head-to-head for bragging rights and the title “Bull of the Woods.”Offering a historical look at the timber industry that helped shape Alaska, the one-hour show includes events such as chopping, sawing, log rolling, death-defying speed climbing and more, plus opportunities for a few Disney Cruise Line children to participate alongside the burly competitors in select events. After clapping and cheering for their teams, families can meet the lumberjacks for autographs and photos at the end of each rowdy show.

Beginning May 23, the Disney Wonder will depart from Vancouver for 13 seven-night cruises to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska.

Princess Names SVP International Sales
Carnival Corporation & plc has announced the promotion of Trey Hickey to the new position of senior vice president, international sales for the Princess Cruises brand.

Princess Names SVP International SalesIn his most recent position as vice president of international sales, Hickey spearheaded the sales strategy in Asia by converting the existing general sales agent (GSA) network he built into Carnival plc offices in Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore. As a result of his success working in international business and within the GSA network, Hickey has helped define key strategies for the growth and success of the Princess Cruises brand and has lead the company's success in sourcing a diversified passenger base.

"Trey joined Princess 16 years ago and over time has continually grown the sourcing of our international passengers by developing a solid base of loyal and productive sales agents all over the globe," said Anthony Kaufman, executive vice president of international operations for Princess Cruises. "His promotion further underscores our commitment to the Asia markets and we look forward to the contributions he will continue to bring to the organization's growth in Asia and beyond."

Hickey currently resides in Shanghai, where he will provide continued focus on the expansion and development of the international sales team and strategy, while continuing to manage worldwide general sales agent relationships in Europe and South America.

Renowned Architectural Photographer to Display Unique Work on Cunard's Flagship Queen Mary 2
Cunard’s former office buildings in Britain and North America are to become an integral part of the fleet’s flagship Queen Mary 2 during her major 2016 refit.

The Cunard Buildings in Liverpool, New York and Southampton will each be featured in a specially-commissioned set of images that will be displayed in the ship’s suites and staterooms when she re-enters service following her three-week refit next June.

Renowned Architectural Photographer to Display Unique Work on Cunard's Flagship Queen Mary 2Behind the images is renowned UK architectural photographer, Paul Ward, who accepted the Cunard commission and spent a month researching, visiting and photographing the buildings.

Ward’s work started in December at the Cunard Building in Liverpool, this year celebrating the centenary of its opening as the line’s headquarters in 1916. It remained the global focal point of Cunard operations until 1967 and in 2004 became part of the City of Liverpool’s acclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site at Pier Head overlooking the River Mersey.

Moving to Manhattan, Ward spent time studying and photographing the Cunard Building at 25 Broadway, which is highly noted for its architectural significance and grandeur, with the entrance lobby and first-floor ticketing office designated a New York City Landmark in 1995.

The last of the former offices photographed in the current commission is South Western House in the company’s home city of Southampton, a Grade II listed property in England which signifies and preserves the special architectural and historic interest of the building.

“The Cunard Buildings in Liverpool, New York and Southampton preserve periods of Cunard culture and history throughout our more than 175-year existence,” said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. “The detail and layouts of the buildings sustain Cunard’s rich heritage through design and décor that echoes attributes of the great liners of Cunard’s past. There is no better way to honour our illustrious history than by incorporating Paul’s images into design elements on board Queen Mary 2 as we move into the future of Cunard.”

“This has been an incredible assignment,” said Ward. “Starting in Liverpool, where the Cunard Building is still such a dominant façade on that famous waterfront, was amazing. Everywhere I turned, from the old luggage areas in the basement to the former First Class Lounge on the top floor and even the roof with its view across the city, I was spoilt for choice. In New York, the inside of the Broadway building is simply breath taking. At Southampton, the Grade II listed South Western House with its long association with ocean travel, was also an inspirational location. All of these buildings are so important to Cunard and it has been a privilege to visit each one and record a small aspect of the part they have played in both the history of Cunard and the maritime history of these great cities.”

Queen Mary 2’s major 25-day refit will see all Princess and Queens Grills Suites and all Britannia Club staterooms, together with more than half of balcony staterooms redesigned. Fresh design schemes and fine details will pay tribute to the original Queen Mary’s iconic art deco heritage while keeping this grand ocean liner at the forefront of luxury.

During her time in dry dock, Queen Mary 2 will also receive a wide range of upgrades, including the addition of 30 new Britannia Club Balcony staterooms and 15 Britannia Single staterooms.

A selection of Paul Ward’s photography can be viewed at:
Liverpool: http://bit.ly/1SekqCl
New York City: http://bit.ly/1PAiChc
Southampton: http://bit.ly/20mJ2bu

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 45.02 + 7.40%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 72.52 + 6.60%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.69 - 0.37%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 40.56 + 6.18%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of Princess Cruises' first ship and where did she operate?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which were the first cruise/passenger ships to have an observation lounge fitted into the smokestack?

Answer - The first cruise/passenger ships to have an observation lounge fitted into the smokestack were the ARGENTINA and the BRAZIL.
courtesy of Theodore Zook


Cruise News - February 8, 2016

Crystal Cruises Announces Plans to Restore SS United States to a Modern Cruise Ship
Crystal today announced it will save “America’s Flagship,” the SS United States, and embark on the enormous undertaking of bringing the ship into compliance with the latest standards, and returning her to oceangoing service. During the announcement, made at a press conference at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York City, Crystal also committed to covering all costs associated with preserving the ship while undertaking a technical feasibility study, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

Crystal Cruises Announces Plans to Restore SS United States to a Modern Cruise Ship“The prospect of revitalizing the SS United States and reestablishing her as ‘America’s Flagship’ once again is a thrilling one. It will be a very challenging undertaking, but we are determined to apply the dedication and innovation that has always been the ship’s hallmark,” says Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez. “We are honored to work with the SS United States Conservancy and government agencies in exploring the technical feasibility study so we can ultimately embark on the journey of transforming her into a sophisticated luxury cruise liner for the modern era.”

“Crystal’s ambitious vision for the SS United States will ensure our nation’s flagship is once again a global ambassador for the highest standards of American innovation, quality and design,” said Susan Gibbs, executive director of the SS United States Conservancy and granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs. We are thrilled that the SS United States is now poised to make a triumphant return to sea and that the ship’s historical legacy will continue to intrigue and inspire a new generation.”

In order to meet modern demands and be in full regulatory compliance, the SS United States will have to be extensively re-built to meet over 60 years of new maritime rules and shipbuilding practices. The modern United States by Crystal Cruises will be transformed into an 800-guest-capacity vessel, featuring 400 luxurious suites measuring about 350 square feet with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities that are true to the ship’s storied history. Features of the original SS United States such as the Promenade and Navajo Lounge will be retained, while new engines and sophisticated marine technology will be installed to maintain her title as the fastest cruise vessel in the world.

Adds Rodriguez: “It is truly a privilege for the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line to be entrusted with the opportunity of restoring a ship that served as a symbol of patriotism and maritime supremacy and bring her into the modern day, while also giving guests a taste of a bygone era of luxury travel.”

Crystal will be examining exciting new itineraries for the 60,000-gross-ton United States by Crystal Cruises including not only the traditional transatlantic voyages from New York City, but cruises from key U.S. ports as well as international voyages around the globe which are a signature offering of Crystal and part of the line’s “World Cruise.”

The epitome of American post-war innovation and design, the SS United States was launched in 1952 and captured the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage – a record to this day that still stands. She remains the largest passenger ship ever designed and built in America. Before her retirement in 1969, the SS United States was the most glamorous and elegant ship in the world, having transported four U.S. presidents, international royalty, many of Hollywood’s “golden era” celebrities, as well as a million passengers. While the ship captivated travelers with its features and elegance, the ship’s origin was equally intriguing. She was designed as part of a top-secret Pentagon program during the Cold War, which stipulated it could be quickly converted from a luxury liner into a naval troopship in the event of a war, carrying 15,000 troops with a 240,000 shaft horsepower propulsion plant capable of traveling 10,000 nautical miles – almost half way around the globe – without refueling.

In October 2015, the SS United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors announced that the persistent challenge of covering the vessel’s monthly expenses had compelled them to engage a ship broker to explore the potential sale of the ship to be responsibly recycled. This news resulted in an outpouring of public support worldwide and led to the Conservancy raising additional funds which enabled the organization to continue its preservation efforts and pursue negotiations with potential investors and partners.

“The Conservancy could never have reached this momentous milestone without the lifeline provided by our supporters from across the country and around the world. Thousands responded to our SOS last October and they refused to give up the fight for America’s Flagship,” continued Gibbs.

To facilitate the complex technical feasibility study and to ensure a smooth execution of the project, Crystal has appointed retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tim Sullivan to build and lead a team with a wide range of cruise line technical, legal and regulatory expertise. With 36 years of active service, Admiral Sullivan has extensive experience in ship operations as a Commanding Officer of numerous Coast Guard cutters, and over the years has engaged in high level of interaction with a myriad of U.S. government agencies and international regulatory entities.

“Tim’s integrity and leadership will help ensure the feasibility study is conducted with appropriately wide consultation, and rigorous adherence to both safety and environmental awareness,” said Rodriguez.

The Conservancy will continue to expand its curatorial and archival collections as it advances its mission of educating the public about the SS United States’ history. The organization will work with Crystal to establish shipboard displays and other educational programs. Planning is also underway for a land-based museum dedicated to preserving the legacy of America’s Flagship along with broader design, innovation, and discovery themes. The museum will feature a wide range of original artifacts and historic components from the ship’s heyday.

Princess Debuts New Livery Design on Majestic Princess
Princess Cruises announced today, on Chinese New Year, that Majestic Princess, the first cruise ship built and designed specifically for the China market will also be the first ship in the fleet to debut an elegant new livery design featuring the company's iconic logo. The new livery design will roll out fleetwide over the next few years.

Princess Debuts New Livery Design on Majestic PrincessOne of the most recognized brand logos in cruising; the design symbolizes the smooth and flowing gracefulness of ocean waves and represents the excitement and adventure of discovering the best the world has to offer on a Princess cruise vacation. The modern, sophisticated-look is designed to reinforce the premium experience of Princess Cruises, recognized around the world as a destination leader.

"For nearly half a century our Princess logo has represented the adventure of cruise travel around the globe," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "Now our ships sail to more than 360 ports of call worldwide and will be instantly recognized from afar. As the very first cruise ship built for China, we take great pride that Majestic Princess is our first ship to proudly display our new livery design."

Also today, Majestic Princess reached a significant construction milestone when the Princess Cruises vessel "floated out" in its building dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The occasion was marked by a traditional ceremony as the ship met ocean water for the first time.

Following the Italian shipyard's custom, the float out of a ship begins when a "madrina," or godmother, cuts the cord that signals the flow of sea water into the ship's building dock. Executive Vice President of Fleet Operations Keith Taylor and recently appointed Majestic Princess Captain Dino Sagani represented Princess Cruises at the ceremony. Captain Sagani's mother, Graziella Sagani, served as the ship's "madrina."

Majestic Princess will offer many of the same special features as Royal Princess and Regal Princess, which have been so well-received. These include a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship; an over-the-ocean SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; the Princess Live! interactive studio; and a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light.

As the first cruise ship built and designed specifically for the China market, Majestic Princess will also feature a number of new venues and experiences created for that market, the details of which will be revealed in the coming months.

Majestic Princess will home-port in Shanghai and carry 3,560 guests.

NCL Announces Ground-Breaking European Summer 2017 Itineraries
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced its ground-breaking summer 2017 deployment for Europe that, for the first time in company history, features five ships sailing in European waters in the summer season. Highlights of the new itineraries include cruises to the Baltic Capitals on Norwegian Getaway from Copenhagen and a first ever complete season from Hamburg on Norwegian Jade, with embarkation for those cruises also available in the UK and Amsterdam. In addition to the European sailings, Norwegian also revealed details on Norwegian Escape’s 2017 summer cruises to the Caribbean from Miami.

Norwegian will bring Norwegian Getaway, currently the second newest ship in the fleet, back to Europe for the first time since its delivery in 2014Norwegian will bring Norwegian Getaway, currently the second newest ship in the fleet, back to Europe for the first time since its delivery in 2014, giving guests the opportunity to experience the ultimate in freedom and flexibility on eight- or nine-night Baltic Capitals cruises from Copenhagen. This spectacular itinerary will allow guests to explore UNESCO World Heritage sites, take in the picturesque Baltic countryside and experience the unique history, cultures and architecture of these famed European cities. The itinerary includes calls in Tallinn, Estonia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; along with an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Marking the first time that Norwegian will homeport a ship in Hamburg, Germany, Norwegian Jade -- one of the company’s four Jewel-Class vessels -- will feature brand new cruises from Hamburg in 2017. Following an extensive dry dock in spring 2017, she will arrive essentially a new ship featuring Norwegian’s new standard of excellence the Norwegian Edge™ on May 14, 2017. Until October 9, 2017, guests can embark from Hamburg on a series of seven- and nine-day Western Europe cruises; nine- and ten-day Norwegian Fjords cruises; 12-day Norway & North Cape sailings; as well as a 14-day Norway, Iceland & UK cruise.

Norwegian will return to England for the first time since 2010 during summer 2017, as Norwegian Jade will call on Southampton during her cruises from Hamburg. From May 12 – June 20 and August 7 – October 16, 2017, guests can choose to embark from Southampton for either seven- and nine-day Western Europe cruises or nine- and ten-day Norwegian Fjords cruises. Guests can also choose to embark from Amsterdam, The Netherlands on select dates for seven-day Western Europe cruises, providing even more flexibility for guests looking to explore Europe pre- or post-cruise.

“With these exciting new summer European itineraries, we are offering our guests a wider variety of adventurous itineraries that span the continent, while also bringing one of our newest and most innovative ships to Europe”, said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Three further ships will sail European waters in 2017, including the recently refurbished Norwegian Epic with her popular seven-night Western Mediterranean itinerary, where guests can choose to depart from Barcelona, Civitavecchia (Rome) or Marseille; Norwegian Spirit sailing alternating 10- and 11-night Grand Mediterranean cruises between Barcelona and Venice; and Norwegian Star, which after her return from Australia, will spend the summer cruising from Venice to the Greek Isles as well as the Adriatic, Greece & Turkey.

Norwegian Escape, Norwegian’s newest ship launched last October, will spend summer 2017 sailing alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises year-round from Miami, starting on May6, 2017. The Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes stops in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas, whereas the Western Caribbean cruises visit Roatán, Honduras; Norwegian’s private destination Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico.

Liberty of the Seas Arrives In Galveston After Refit
Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas arrived to her homeport of Galveston, Texas today after an extensive month-long dry dock.

Norwegian will bring Norwegian Getaway, currently the second newest ship in the fleet, back to Europe for the first time since its delivery in 2014The bow-to-stern makeover introduced a slew of Royal Caribbean firsts such as a collection of waterslides called the Perfect Storm including the first ever boomerang style slide at sea, Tidal Wave. New as well is Splashaway Bay, an aqua park featuring an interactive kid’s play area with water cannons, geysers and much more.

In addition, the ship now offers an expanded lineup of tantalizing food options, including modern Mexican cuisine at Sabor; Giovanni’s Table, an Italian trattoria featuring Italian classics served family style as well as the R Bar, featuring a sophisticated 1960s vibe, complete with iconic decor and signature cocktails mixed by a savvy and personable mixologist.

Liberty of the Seas will sail seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries every Sunday from Galveston starting from November 2015 , visiting exciting warm weather getaways in the Caribbean including: Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico; and Roatan, Honduras.

For Chocolate Lovers on Cruises, Every Day is Valentine's Day
Cruise passengers are big lovers of chocolate. The proof is in the pudding – and the chocolate cake, and the chocolate soufflés, and the chocolate truffles.

While you're shopping for that perfect box of chocolate for your Valentine consider, for instance, that Carnival Cruise Line alone buys more than 1.3 million pounds of chocolate each year. A half million of those pounds go into making the passenger-favorite Warm Chocolate Melting Cake – some 4 million of the cakes consumed annually in the main dining rooms of the line's two dozen ships.

For Valentine's Day, Carnival Cruise Line chefs will make some 60,000 chocolate-covered strawberries, along with love-themed desserts.

For Chocolate Lovers on Cruises, Every Day is Valentine's DayWhile no exact statistic is available, it is fair to say that millions of pounds of chocolate are consumed at sea each year on cruise ships. So why do cruising and chocolate go together?

"Chocolate and a lot of things go together," said French-trained Master Chocolatier Norman Love, who consults on all things chocolate with Princess Cruises. "On a cruise, people are on vacation and enjoying themselves. There's also a romantic side to cruising and a romantic side to chocolate as well. Cruising and chocolate are made for each other."

The chocolate on Princess' 18 ships, whose passengers consume more than a million pounds annually, comes from cacao-bean growing countries around the world. As with wine, great fruit produces great product, with sunlight, soil and elevation factors in creating distinct chocolate flavors, Love said.

The chocolate goes into creations including those highlighted in Princess Cruises' 24-hour "Chocolate Journeys" program (www.chocolatejourneys.com) with Love.

You can sample his 15 extravagant desserts at dinner, bites with afternoon tea, chocolate pastries at breakfast and chocolate cookies while watching Movies Under the Stars. Or get more adventurous and have anti-oxidant chocolate smeared on your body as part of a hydrating treatment at the Lotus Spa. You can even sip loaded chocolate creations in ship bars.

"Chocolate makes people happy," Love said. "It's a wonderful, universal thing that Mother Nature creates."

Americans are consuming more chocolate than ever before, Love added, whether for health benefits, with an aphrodisiac purpose in mind or just because it's so good. "It's chocolate's time right now. Chocolate is really hot," Love said.

A recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research for Princess Cruises showed more than half of U.S. adults admit to being a chocolate addict. The survey also showed 70 percent of women would choose chocolate over sex.

Holland America Line showcases high-end Belgian chocolate in cakes, muffins, custards, sauces and cookies – and more extravagant creations by world-renowned chocolatier Jacques Torres, such as his Chocolate Coconut Napoleon and Baked Chocolate Soup.

A passenger favorite is the Grand Marnier Chocolate Volcano Cake at the Pinnacle Grill. You'll also find Dutch hot chocolate served on Holland America Line ships on cool days when you're warming up after seeing, for instance, the stunning sight of a glacier thunderously calving into the sea in Alaska.

American cruisers aren't the only ones obsessed with chocolate.

In Australia, passengers on the five P&O Cruises Australia ships go for sweet treats even at breakfast, the ships baking a half million chocolate croissants each year.

The galleys on British P&O Cruises and sister line Cunard stock chocolate in all sorts of forms including sticks for baking, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, chocolate pastels, cocoa nibs and fudge topping. And then, of course, there are treats placed on your pillow at night – the two cruise lines will distribute more than 9.5 million wrapped pillow chocolates by British purveyor Whitakers Chocolates this year.

Other brands represented on the eight P&O ships and three Cunard ocean liners include Belgian chocolatier Callebaut and French premium brand Valhrona. To decorate treats, the lines will order up more than 2,700 pounds of chocolate sprinkles (also known as vermicelli) this year.

P&O in January introduced a bigger and better all-chocolate buffet, available once each cruise, featuring flowing chocolate fountains, bread and butter pudding, tarts, pyramids, lollipops, éclairs and other creations. P&O passengers can also try their hand at chocolate making with a new truffle master class, take-home recipes included.

"You should never have a menu without chocolate," said Kalman Bauer, development chef for P&O, noting chocolate fondant and chocolate soufflés are particularly popular guest choices. "When you have 2,600 people onboard a ship, about 75 percent will go with chocolate at least once a day."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 41.92 - 14.40%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 68.02 - 19.52%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.70 + 1.89%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 38.2 - 18.82%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which were the first cruise/passenger ships to have an observation lounge fitted into the smokestack?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
When the Seabourn Spirit was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia several years ago, it used an innovative technology to help repel the pirates. What was the technology called and how does it work?

Answer - Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD) it operates by focusing sound or voice in a specific direction. It can be used to issue a verbal warning that can be followed up by a sound that is meant to deter or prevent persons from approaching the vessal or vehicle. It is manufactured by American Technology Corporation.
courtesy of Kevin Tapee


Cruise News - February 1, 2016

SS United States Redevelopment Plan to be Announced
Captain Dino Sagani has been named master of its next new ship, Majestic PrincessAccording to the SS United States Conservancy, the group that currently owns the SS United States, the Conservancy is planning to make on announcement on February 4 about the future of the SS United States.

In a statement, the group said that “After years of working to rescue and revitalize America's Flagship, the SS United States, the SS United States Conservancy will host a press conference to announce that it has signed an option agreement with a major redevelopment partner.”

“At the announcement, an exciting future for the ship will be revealed that envisions the SS United States again as an iconic symbol of America the world over. An artist rendering of the redeveloped ocean liner will also be unveiled. Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs will join the CEO from the development partner to provide details on the agreement and plans for the ship’s future. A brief question and answer session will be held immediately after the announcement.”

Royal Caribbean Reports Strong Earnings
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today reported 2015 results and provided guidance for 2016. Continuing on its Double-Double trajectory, the company's adjusted earnings for 2015 were $4.83 per share - up 42% over 2014, and are expected to further increase to $5.90 - $6.10 in 2016.

Captain Dino Sagani has been named master of its next new ship, Majestic PrincessFOURTH QUARTER RESULTS

Adjusted and US GAAP Net Income for the fourth quarter of 2015 was $206.8 million, or $0.94 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $70 million, or $0.32 per share, for the same period last year. Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel were down 4.7%, 70 basis points better than guidance, mainly due to timing. Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 4.9% versus guidance of 4.5% to 5.0%. Stronger demand in the Caribbean and new China sailings in the winter drove an improvement versus last year.

FULL YEAR 2015 RESULTS

Adjusted Net Income for the full year 2015 was $1.07 billion, or $4.83 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $755.7 million, or $3.39 per share, for the full year 2014. This represents a 42% year-over-year increase. US GAAP Net Income for the full year 2015 was $665.8 million.

Net Yields for the full year 2015 increased 3.5% on a Constant-Currency basis versus 2.4% in 2014.

NCC excluding fuel were down 0.6% on a Constant-Currency basis, marking another year of strong cost control. The average bunker price net of hedging for full year 2015 was $582 per metric ton and consumption was 1,367,000 metric tons.

Last quarter, Royal Caribbean announced that its Pullmantur brand would re-focus to the core market of Spain as a result of the deterioration of economies in Latin America. Royal Caribbean said that it recorded a non-cash impairment charge of $399.3 million related to this change, which is reflected in the US GAAP Net Income figure.

During 2015, the US Dollar strengthened while the price of fuel in world markets declined. While the impact of currency is immediate, there is a lag before a change in the price of fuel flows through to business. There continues to be an inverse relationship between the foreign exchange impact on our currency exposures and fuel prices, but the offsets are not exact, especially in the short term. For 2015, the net impact of currency and fuel was a negative $0.25 per share relative to our January guidance.

FULL YEAR 2016

Royal Caribbean said that its booked position for 2016 is roughly equal to last year's record high, and at higher rates. Continued strength from North American consumers is driving strong demand for North American products such as Caribbean, Alaska, and Bermuda which represent over 50% of capacity for the year. These North American products combined with strong demand for Northern Europe and Asia sailings are expected to more than offset current pricing challenges impacting the Mediterranean, Australia and Brazil.

Royal Caribbean said that it expects a Net Yield increase in the range of 2.0% to 4.0% on a Constant-Currency basis and flat to up 2% on an As-Reported basis for the full year.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up 1% or less on a Constant-Currency basis and up 0.5% or less As-Reported.

"Despite some challenges in select destinations, our strong brands, innovative hardware and deployment optimization are continuing to deliver strong yield growth in 2016," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "These yields coupled with continued cost discipline are expected to result in another year of step change performance."

Over the past several months the dollar has continued to strengthen relative to our basket of currency exposures, while fuel prices have lowered – resulting in a negative $0.14 impact to earnings per share for 2016. Additionally, interest rates have recently increased, which are negatively impacting earnings by $0.06 per share.

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it currently estimates 2016 Adjusted EPS will be in the range of $5.90 - $6.10 per share.

As Royal Caribbean noted previously, due to the weakness in the economies in Latin America, it is re-focusing the Pullmantur brand on its core market of Spain and right-sizing the brand. Part of this right-sizing includes anticipated restructuring and related charges during 2016 in the range of $0.05 to $0.10 per share. Additionally, Royal Caribbean said that it plans to eliminate the two-month reporting lag for the Pullmantur brand in the first quarter of 2016 resulting in a negative impact of approximately $0.10 per share. Both adjustments will be excluded from key metrics for transparency and comparability purposes.

FIRST QUARTER 2016

Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be up approximately 4.0% in the first quarter of 2016 (approximately 0.5% As-Reported). A strong Caribbean environment, combined with Quantum of the Seas' first winter product in China, is driving the majority of the improvement.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up in the range of 4.5% to 5.0% on a Constant-Currency basis (3.5% to 4.0% As-Reported). While planned operating costs for the full year show continued strong expense discipline, the timing of costs between quarters varies considerably. Royal Caribbean said that it has a higher level of dry docks during the first and fourth quarters than the previous year. It also plans to increase first quarter costs related to the expansion in China and for the launch of new marketing campaigns for the core brands. In addition, although Ovation of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas are being delivered in the second quarter, there are some preparatory costs incurred in the months before delivery. As a result, costs are more concentrated than usual in the first quarter.

Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates and currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it expects first quarter Adjusted EPS to be approximately $0.30 per share.

Princess Names Master of Majestic Princess
Princess Cruises announced today that Captain Dino Sagani has been named master of its next new ship, Majestic Princess. He will lead a senior officer team with more than 100 years of seagoing experience among them.

Captain Dino Sagani has been named master of its next new ship, Majestic PrincessThe relief Captain appointed to Majestic Princess is Princess Cruises' veteran, Captain Craig Street.

"We're thrilled to appoint such experienced captains to our new cruise ship destined for China," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. "These skilled officers bring considerable seagoing and management skills and we know they will deliver an exceptional and memorable cruise vacation experience to all Majestic Princess guests."

Captain Dino Sagani has served on board the ships of Princess Cruises for over 21 years having commanded a variety of Princess vessels, including Sea Princess, Dawn Princess, Sapphire Princess, Diamond Princess and most recently as relief captain on board Royal Princess and Regal Princess. Sagani was born in Trieste on the North East Adriatic coast of Italy. Following the family tradition, he studied at the Nautical College in Trieste, which is one of the oldest Nautical Schools in Europe. On completion of his studies, he joined the Italian Navy, serving on a minesweeper during the first Gulf War. After the Navy, he joined Princess Cruises in 1995, where he quickly climbed the ranks and was promoted to Captain in 2007.

Captain Craig Street has commanded a variety of Princess vessels, including Caribbean Princess, Golden Princess, Sea Princess, Sun Princess, the former Royal Princess and Pacific Jewel, with sister Company P&O Australia. In addition, Captain Street has previously had the opportunity to bring three Princess cruise ships into service from the same shipyard in Italy; namely the Caribbean Princess, Sea Princess & Dawn Princess. Street was born in Norfolk, England, spent most of his youth living in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1990 he joined the Princess family as a deck cadet and after serving 3 years as an apprentice, qualified as 3rd Officer in 1993. Since then he has advanced through the ranks with his first command being the Star Princess in 2008.

Setting sail in spring 2017, Majestic Princess will offer many of the same special features as Royal Princess and Regal Princess, which have been so well-received. These include a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship; an over-the-ocean SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; the Princess Live! interactive studio; and a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light.

As the first ship built and designed specifically for the China market, Majestic Princess will also feature a number of new venues and experiences created for this market, with more details revealed in the coming months.

Majestic Princess will be based in China year-round and be home-ported in Shanghai, carrying 3,560 guests.

Carnival Inspiration in Final Stages of Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation
Carnival Inspiration in Final Stages of Multi-Million-Dollar RenovationCarnival Inspiration is shown here at the Vigor Shipyard in Portland, Ore., during the final stages of an extensive multi-million-dollar dry dock that began January 18.

Along with a number of new dining and bar concepts that are being added during the three-week-long renovation, the 2,052-passenger vessel was taken out of the water to undergo routine maintenance, including a new hull coating, as well as the addition of shore power capabilities.

New onboard features being added during the dry dock include Guy’s Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, a Mexican eatery called BlueIguana Cantina serving authentic tacos and burritos, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the Cherry on Top sweets and novelty store, and two new poolside watering holes — RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar.

Carnival Inspiration will reposition from Portland to its homeport of Long Beach, Calif., then resume its year-round schedule of three- and four-day Baja cruises Feb. 8.

Silversea Cruises Announces New Head of Americas
Silversea Cruises today announced the appointment of cruise industry veteran Mark Conroy as head of the company's Miami office, which has responsibility for the Americas.Silversea Cruises today announced the appointment of cruise industry veteran Mark Conroy as head of the company's Miami office, which has responsibility for the Americas.

"I have known, appreciated and respected Mark for more than twenty years and cannot hide my satisfaction in having him join us," said Silversea's chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio. "He is an energetic leader with extensive knowledge of the cruise industry."

"As of today, Mark will contribute greatly to the further growth of Silversea Cruises," said Silversea CEO Enzo Visone. "Our expansion plans are well known. Our new ship, Silver Muse, is on schedule to join our fleet at the beginning of 2017, which together with our plans to refurbish and upgrade our existing vessels, will solidify our leadership position in the top segment of the cruise market. I am pleased to join Manfredi in welcoming Mark Conroy to Silversea Cruises."

The company also confirms that Kristian Anderson has stepped down as Silversea's senior vice president and general manager for the Americas.

"We thank Kristian for his contributions over the past years and wish him well for his future endeavors," commented Visone.

AIDA Cruises Launches Global Casting Call for Entertainers
German-based AIDA Cruises announced this week that it is planning a series of worldwide auditions in search of the 570 entertainers needed for the 24 stages on its 10 cruise ships.

AIDA Cruises Launches Global Casting Call for EntertainersThe casting calls for singers, actors, dancers and other performers will be held in 11 cities and seven countries, with the first casting call being held today through Wednesday in London's renowned Pineapple Dance Studios. The calls will provide opportunities for performers in cities from Kiev to Los Angeles and New York to showcase their talents in hopes of securing a coveted position on Germany's largest and most popular cruise line.

"In addition to a first-class dance and artist ensemble, we are looking for excellent rock, pop and musical singers whose talents will thrill our guests every day at our exclusive and innovative shows," said Christoph Süsens, head of casting at AIDA Cruises. "Our performers must be able to not only sing and dance, they must also be consummate entertainers who will instantly spellbind audiences with their expressiveness and charm."

Once performers are selected, they will rehearse up to 12 shows across genres in Hamburg at the brand's AIDA Entertainment facility, where the elaborate shows are developed and produced by a creative team.

There is additional excitement this year with the launch of the brand's newest ship, AIDAprima, which will begin sailing in April 2016 as the first German cruise ship to operate year-round from Hamburg. Some of the entertainers will be chosen to perform on the new ship's AIDA Beachclub and Club Nightfly during itineraries that take guests to ports of call throughout Western Europe.

The search for the world's top talent includes events in 11 cities spanning seven countries, including:

London, February 1-3
Amsterdam, February 29-March 1
Hamburg, Germany, March 7-8
Gothenburg, Sweden, March 14-15
Stockholm, Sweden, March 16-17
Kiev, Ukraine, April 16-17
Los Angeles, April 21-22
New York, April 25-27
Copenhagen, Denmark, May 9-10
London, June 6-8

Performers who are auditioning should be able to speak English. For singers, being able to speak German is not required during auditions, but those who are selected will be expected to learn to sing two to three songs in German during the rehearsal period at AIDA Entertainment.

Carnival Corporation & plc Announces Carnival plc Share Sale And Carnival Corporation Stock Repurchase Program
Carnival Corporation Announces Carnival plc Share Sale And Carnival Corporation Stock Repurchase ProgramCarnival Corporation & plc announces that Carnival Corporation and Carnival Investments Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, intend to sell existing Carnival plc ordinary shares that they hold in the UK market ("Share Sales"). The ordinary shares will be sold from time to time in the UK in "at the market" transactions at times when the Carnival Corporation common stock is trading at a discount to Carnival plc shares. Carnival Corporation & plc intends to use the net proceeds of the Carnival plc Share Sales to repurchase Carnival Corporation common stock on at least an equivalent basis in the U.S. market ("Stock Swap Repurchase"), and to use the remaining net proceeds, if any, for general corporate purposes. Carnival Corporation & plc only intends to trade where it will derive an economic benefit from the Carnival plc Share Sales and Carnival Corporation Stock Swap Repurchase program.

Depending upon market conditions, Carnival Corporation and Carnival Investments Limited over time will sell up to 26,900,000 ordinary shares of Carnival plc in this program. Under the terms of the articles of association of Carnival plc the ordinary shares sold by Carnival Corporation and Carnival Investments Limited will, once held outside of the Carnival Corporation group, become re-enfranchised for voting purposes.

Carnival plc has filed a registration statement on Form S-3ASR (including a prospectus) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") in relation to the Share Sales program, for U.S. regulatory purposes. Interested parties should read the prospectus in that registration statement and the other documents that Carnival Corporation & plc have filed with the SEC that are incorporated by reference into the prospectus for more complete information about Carnival Corporation & plc and this program. These documents are available at no charge by visiting EDGAR on the SEC Web site at www.sec.gov. You may also request a copy of the prospectus for this offering, and the documents incorporated by reference into the prospectus from Carnival Corporation & plc, without charge, upon written or oral request.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 48.97 - 1.71%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 84.52 + 1.38%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.65 - 5.02%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.06 - 0.55%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When the Seabourn Spirit was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia several years ago, it used an innovative technology to help repel the pirates. What was the technology called and how does it work?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the two converted liners that engaged in the first, and last, wartime confrontation between ocean liners.

Answer - Cunard's Carmania and Hamburg-South America's Cap Trafalgar exchanged nerly 1,000 rounds before the Cap Trafalgar eventually sank on September 13, 1914.
courtesy of Tim Flanagan, Miami, FL.


Cruise News - January 25, 2016

HAL’s ms Koningsdam Reaches Milestone with Successful Completion of Sea Trials
Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam returned to Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard Saturday, Jan. 16, after successfully completing two sets of sea trials off the Italian coast.

HAL’s ms Koningsdam Reaches Milestone with Successful Completion of Sea Trials Koningsdam left Marghera Jan. 2 and performed the first set of sea trials over three days before going into dry dock at Fincantieri’s Trieste shipyard, where standard hull maintenance was performed. The ship sailed its second sea trials Jan. 10 through 16, making its way back to Marghera, where the finishing touches will be completed.

“Koningsdam is a new class of ship for Holland America Line, so everyone was eager to get the ship out in the open water for the first time on sea trials,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. "Koningsdam delivered a strong performance and is now back at the ship yard for the final phase of work in anticipation of the early April delivery.”

During the sea trials, Koningsdam underwent a series of performance tests on the ship’s systems, machinery and engines. Captain Emiel de Vries, Koningsdam’s master-designate, has not yet taken command of the ship, but he participated in testing the ship’s maneuvering characteristics and safety systems together with the shipyard’s team of naval architects and builders.

In its inaugural year, Koningsdam will feature a variety of itineraries in the Mediterranean, northern Europe and the Caribbean. The ship’s naming ceremony is scheduled for May 20, 2016, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Princess Announces $450 Million Multi-Year Cruise Ship Renovation Campaign
Princess Cruises announces The Come Back New Promise, a $450 million multi-year product innovation and cruise ship renovation campaign that will continue to enhance the line's onboard guest experience. These enhancements will result in more transformative moments, lifetime memories and meaningful stories for guests to share from their cruise vacation.

Stein Kruse, CEO Princess Cruises (left) and Jan Swartz, President Princess Cruises (right) joined by partners Chef Curtis Stone, Designer Candice Olson, Sleep Expert Dr. Michael Breus and Chef Ernesto Uchimura who were together to announce the Come Back New Promise"The Come Back New Promise differentiates our approach to cruising and offers our guests enriching vacation experiences by connecting them with each other, nature and different cultures in a new way," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "Our promise is to provide guests transformative moments designed to inspire them to discover the world and themselves, ultimately allowing us to declare that a cruise isn't good enough unless you 'come back new.'"

The campaign demonstrates a commitment by Princess Cruises to exceed guest expectations while continuously improving upon and delivering a high value cruise vacation experience that inspires guests to return and introduce cruising to their family and friends.

Recently, Princess introduced new initiatives inspired to deliver The Come Back New Promise which further elevate the line's wellness, culinary/dining experiences and expands the partnership with Discovery Communications. They include:


• Chef Curtis Stone – a partnership with award-winning chef, New York Times best-selling author and restaurateur Curtis Stone brings guests fresh, new culinary creations. All Princess ships will feature "Crafted by Curtis" menu items in the main dining room, while on select ships guests will enjoy "SHARE" a brand new specialty restaurant which will include a new Chef's Table experience designed by Stone.
• The Princess Luxury Bed – featuring a new specially designed bed to deliver the ultimate night of sleep at sea the Princess Luxury Bed was developed in collaboration with experts in both the science and beauty of sleep -- Dr. Michael Breus, "The Sleep Doctor," and highly acclaimed designer, Candice Olson, star of the hit HGTV shows "Candice Tells All" and "Divine Design" -- Princess is installing more than 44,000 new beds, to every stateroom, across the fleet through 2018.
• The Salty Dog Gastropub – another new dining option which highlights a variety of small bites inspired by pub favorites, adapted for an upscale culinary experience. Developed in collaboration with Ernesto Uchimura, a founding chef of the original Umami Burger, guests will also enjoy a variety of beer, whiskey and cocktail selections. Currently available on select ships.
• Style at Sea with TLC – What to pack, what to wear and how to look stylish are just a few of the many questions guests ask when preparing for a cruise vacation. With the help of TLC's fashion expert Stacy London, Style at Sea with TLC will provide tips and tricks to help guests feel and look their best while aboard a cruise.

Previously, Princess unveiled these initiatives which became the inspiration for The Come Back New Promise campaign, providing guests new culinary, enrichment and entertainment experiences, including:


• Chocolate Journeys - An immersive chocolate experience designed by Master Chocolatier Norman Love, exclusive to Princess, was launched offering delectable desserts, wine and chocolate pairings and specialty chocolate cocktails. New chocolate offerings allow guests to indulge in even more custom-crafted signature desserts in new venues throughout the ship, as well as chocolate pairings with tea and more.
• Discovery at Sea - A partnership with Discovery Communications, which brings new, innovative activities and shore excursions to the Princess-guest experience through hit shows like Deadliest Catch and Shark Week.
• New Original Musical Productions – Magic to Do, the first of four musical production shows created in collaboration with Stephen Schwartz, award-winning composer and songwriter of Wicked, Godspell and Pippin, combines exhilarating magic with some of Schwartz's most famous songs. Plus, the show features a brand new song written exclusively for Princess. Magic to Do debuted to critical acclaim and is currently running aboard Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess.
• Festivals of the World - Around the world, in every season, festivals bring people together to celebrate the uniqueness of a culture and its heritage often in the most colorful ways. Princess hosts festivals onboard that originate from nearly every corner of the globe. From Mardi Gras to Rio Carnival, guests enjoy parties, enriching activities, lively musical performances, festival-related movies and specialty shopping.
• Craft Beer Series – Through partnerships with regional breweries that specialize in local flavor, Princess started the series with an award-winning West Coast IPA from Strike Brewing Company in San Jose, Calif., followed it with a special 50th Anniversary blend and have since added the Alaska Denali Red Ale, East Coast Blonde Lager and the Australian Gold Ale.
• Princess@Sea Messenger - Guests have the opportunity to be connected with their fellow cruisers using mobile messenger, an instant message feature offering an easy way to make plans, confirm a meeting location while onboard the ship. The Princess@Sea Messenger is integrated in the complimentary Princess@Sea mobile app, accessed via a smartphone or tablet browser.

More announcements about ship renovations, entertainment and accommodations, in association with The Come Back New Promise campaign, are on the horizon and sure to bring Princess Cruises offerings to new heights.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas Amps up Fun For Entire Family
Royal Caribbean International is taking family fun to new heights onboard its newest ship, Harmony of the Seas. Guests setting sail aboard Harmony to Europe’s most popular destinations in the Western Mediterranean will be able to enjoy more family-friendly offerings than ever before, such as Royal Caribbean’s signature DreamWorks Experience, enhanced entertainment in the award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program, and a new collection of family amenities -- two thoughtful collections of experiences that highlight what travelers tend to enjoy most on vacation: eat, play, drink -- in the signature balcony staterooms boasting views of the distinct Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods. Combined with The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, The Perfect Storm trio of water slides and Splashaway Bay interactive aqua park for kids, Harmony of the Seas will bring a jolt of adventure for the entire family aboard the world’s largest cruise ship when she arrives in May 2016.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas Amps up Fun For Entire FamilyDreamWorks Animation Characters Set Sail - When Harmony of the Seas debuts in approximately 117 days, she will bring with her a familiar cast of DreamWorks Animation characters including Po of Kung Fu Panda; Shrek, Fiona and Puss in Boots of Shrek; and from Madagascar, Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien and the Penguins. Guests will enjoy events and activities based on DreamWorks Animation's popular feature-film characters, including a DreamWorks Character breakfast in the main dining room, ‘meet and greet’ experiences throughout the day, as well as photo opportunities that can be immediately shared with family and friends back home thanks to VOOM, the fastest internet at sea.

Royal Caribbean's younger guests can enjoy an exhilarating line-up of activities, from story time to dance parties, games and adventures rooted in the popular DreamWorks Animation films at the complimentary, award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program. Only on Royal Caribbean, parents and kids alike can enjoy peace of mind knowing that they have guaranteed seats on “opening weekend” of highly anticipated feature films such as "Kung Fu Panda 3,” which premieres onboard the same day it does in theaters on land. Year-round, guests can watch the latest and long-term favorite DreamWorks Animation films in the ship’s 3D movie theater and on a dedicated DreamWorks TV channel in their stateroom.

Enhanced Adventure Ocean Programming - Royal Caribbean’s complimentary, award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program will continue to offer young guests, ages three to eleven, an entertaining line-up of activities and games rooted in fun and excitement. New to be offered in Harmony’s Adventure Ocean Theater is Away We Go!, a black light puppet show created by Tony® award-nominated actors and imaginative producers John Tartaglia by and Michael Shawn Lewis of Gable Grove Productions.

Additionally, programming by “Muffalo Potato” – the popular YouTube show, which teaches kids to draw anything in minutes using only letters and numbers – will round out Harmony’s lineup. Muffalo Potato originally debuted aboard Anthem of the Seas and will expand fleetwide just in time for summer vacations, starting with Harmony of the Seas.

New Family Amenities for Central Park and Boardwalk Staterooms - Families vacationing together on Harmony of the Seas, as well as Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, will be able to take advantage of the new collection of added benefits to balcony staterooms overlooking the Central Park and Boardwalk outdoor neighborhoods. Starting in November 2016, the signature views will be complemented and enhanced with amenities that feature the best of what each neighborhood has to offer. Guests with views of Central Park – a revolutionary design in which the center of the ship opens to the sky, and features lush, tropical grounds spanning the length of a football field – will enjoy lunch for two at Jamie’s Italian, serving rustic Italian favorites from world-renowned chef Jamie Oliver, or Harmony of the Seas or Giovanni’s Table onboard Oasis and Allure of the Seas; a complimentary bottle of red wine upon arrival; and special perks in the Casino Royale. Guests with Boardwalk views – a neighborhood inspired by the nostalgic boardwalks of yesteryear – will receive lunch or dinner for four at Johnny Rockets, a family favorite featuring old-fashioned burgers and fries; a soda beverage package for two; and private time on the cruise line’s iconic 38-foot tall rock wall.

Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, will span 16 guest decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,497 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis-class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean's exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. For more information about Harmony of the Seas, please visit RoyalCaribbean.com/HarmonyoftheSeas.

Holland America Line Launches New Advertising Campaign
Holland America Line is evolving its image with a new brand campaign that introduces a refreshed logo, new advertising campaign and new tag line that invites guests to "Savor the Journey." The new slogan encourages travelers to embrace the exhilaration of a Holland America Line cruise, both aboard ship and ashore.

Holland America Line Launches New Advertising CampaignThe updated blue and white logo is still classic, but simpler and forward looking. It continues to feature the company's timeless oval around a Holland America Line ship, with the bold blue hull that guests associate with the brand purposefully breaking out of the oval plane. Fonts were updated to be cleaner and more contemporary and the new "Savor the Journey" tagline appears under the company name.

"'Savor the Journey' is all-encompassing and tells the story of today's Holland America Line cruise experience, from our breadth of destinations to our classic style, gracious service, impeccable cuisine and onboard entertainment and enrichment programs," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "Our goal is to marry how we present the brand with what motivates our guests to travel today. That theme carries through to the logo, advertising, marketing collateral, partnerships and other enhancements.

"Holland America Line is evolving, and we are certain that travel professionals are taking notice and will appreciate our extensive efforts to drive cruise business," added Ashford. "We are committed to the agent community and all advertising directs consumers to contact a travel professional."

In addition to the logo and tagline, Holland America Line is introducing new advertising efforts that include both local-market and national television commercials — a first for the cruise line in several years. Emphasizing the company's classic style and enriching journeys, the integrated campaign also includes new print ads, radio spots, digital advertising, direct mail and email.

The 30-second television commercial takes viewers on a visual journey through the sights and sounds of a Holland America Line cruise. From the memorable adventures shore side in ports around the world to the elegant onboard ambiance that the brand is known for, viewers will become immersed in the Holland America Line experience.

Television ads and radio spots will run through late March in Boston, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; Denver, Colo.; Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Seattle, Wash.; and Washington, D.C. Some national television placements and exposure helped kick off the campaign. Viewers can look for the commercials during a variety of shows including "Today," "The Voice," "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," "Saturday Night Live" and "60 Minutes," as well as during other programming on networks including HGTV, History, Bravo, Golf Channel, MSNBC, USA Network and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

"We haven't had a broadcast campaign to this extent in many years, so it's exciting to see the brand taking steps to increase awareness and spread the word that if you want to see the world in the most enriching way possible, Holland America Line is the company to take you there," Ashford added.

The new print ads encourage travelers with taglines of "Write the Next Great Chapter in Your Life Story" and use vivid imagery to illustrate "Mediterranean Blues and Delta Blues. On One Cruise." Another ad proves that it's not impossible to visit "Barcelona and Lincoln Center in One Day" on a Holland America Line ship.

Readers will find the new print ads running in leading travel and lifestyle publications, including AFAR; Bon Appétit; Condé Nast Traveler; Departures; Food & Wine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Porthole; Smithsonian; Travel + Leisure and more, as well as top trade publications.

Royal Caribbean And World Wildlife Fund Announce Global Partnership
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced today a five-year global partnership to help ensure the long-term health of the oceans.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced today a five-year global partnership to help ensure the long-term health of the oceans. Pictured from left to right are: Joel Palma, President & CEO, WWF Philippines; Josephine A. Cruz, Mayor, Donsol, Philippines and Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.The partners will set measurable and achievable sustainability targets that will reduce Royal Caribbean's environmental footprint, raise awareness about ocean conservation among the company's more than five million guests, and support WWF's global oceans conservation work.

The CEOs of WWF and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. discuss their common goal of protecting the oceans and explain the ambitious new conservation partnership between the organizations.

"Our mantra at Royal Caribbean is 'Continuous Improvement,' and this partnership with WWF represents a great opportunity to make a big step forward in meeting our special responsibility to protect the oceans," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "It is also gratifying to see that our determination to make a meaningful difference is shared by our employees and our guests. This new partnership aligns all of us at RCL with WWF's mission to conserve the world's oceans. Together we are setting aggressive goals and together we will start implementing them right away."

"The threats that are facing the ocean are greater than ever – in the last 30 years, some ocean wildlife populations have declined by nearly 50 percent. If we are going to reverse the downward trends, we must take serious steps to repair, restore and protect the oceans," said Carter Roberts, WWF-US President and CEO. "This initiative centers on two core concepts: first, committing to specific and measurable targets to reduce carbon emissions, increase sustainable sourcing and build destination stewardship; and second, comprehensively engaging their millions of travelers to learn about the ocean and then act to help save it."

Royal Caribbean Cruises and WWF jointly developed new 2020 environmental sustainability targets for the company that includes:

Carbon Emissions 2020 Target:


• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent by 2020.

Sustainable Seafood 2020 Target


• Responsibly source 90% of its wild-caught seafood by volume from MSC certified sustainable fisheries, fisheries in full assessment for MSC certification, comprehensive Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs), and/or sourced from International Seafood Sustainability Association (ISSA) member companies.
• In North America and Europe operations, responsibly source 75% of its farmed seafood by volume from ASC certified responsible farms, farms in full assessment for ASC certification, and/or comprehensive aquaculture improvement projects.
• In addition, by June 30, 2016, RCL will set specific traceability goals with targets for obtaining MSC and ASC chain of custody.

In addition, Royal Caribbean and WWF have agreed to develop and announce new targets by June 30 that will address destination stewardship. As part of this, WWF and RCL will collaborate to strengthen RCL's destination sustainability assessment and selection process.

Royal Caribbean also will financially support WWF's global ocean conservation work through a $5 million philanthropic contribution during the partnership, and will collaborate with WWF to build global awareness about ocean conservation issues among its millions of passengers.

The organizations made their announcement at an event in Donsol, Sorsogon, Philippines that is home to a model community-based ecotourism program. At the event, RCL also made a separate, $200,000 donation to WWF Philippines in support of conservation programs in the Donsol area.

Carnival Corporation to Host The Nature Conservancy's Mapping Ocean Wealth Annual Meeting
Carnival Corporation & plc will welcome representatives from leading conservation, science and sustainability organizations Jan. 26-27 to its Miami headquarters for The Nature Conservancy's Mapping Ocean Wealth annual forum. Carnival Corporation, in partnership with the Carnival Foundation, awarded a $2.5 million gift over five years in 2014 to support The Nature Conservancy's work on Mapping Ocean Wealth and global marine protection priorities, and hosting this week's summit at the company's headquarters underscores its commitment to a healthy and sustainable environment.

The Mapping Ocean Wealth initiative is designed to create a new kind of knowledge about how and where ocean benefits are produced – and mapping those areas.The Mapping Ocean Wealth initiative is designed to create a new kind of knowledge about how and where ocean benefits are produced – and mapping those areas. Coral reefs and mangroves, for example, provide numerous benefits, including fish production, flood mitigation, erosion control and recreation. The project will be transformational to ocean management and will improve investments in conservation, restoration and economic development by identifying and mapping the areas where these benefits are produced.

The meeting will also highlight updated research in the areas supporting tourism, the coastal ocean's CO2 sequestration capacity and coastal protection specific to coral reefs and mangroves, which are present in ports around the world and whose health is an important environmental priority for Carnival Corporation and its 10 cruise line brands operating in more than 700 global ports.

Along with Carnival Corporation, representatives from The World Bank, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), World Resources Institute (WRI), University of British Columbia, Duke University, GRID-Arendal and others will join The Nature Conservancy at the meeting.

"The Nature Conservancy's Mapping Ocean Wealth project will identify the most critical areas for public and private action in support of our oceans, as well as help showcase the latest research on issues such as tourism, coastal protection and fish production," said Elaine Heldewier, sustainability director for Carnival Corporation. "As the world's largest cruise company, we have 11 million guests a year sailing with our 10 global brands, and many of our 120,000 employees work and live for extended periods of time on our oceans and seas. So it is a top priority for us to protect and sustain the environment, and supporting leading conservation groups such as The Nature Conservancy and many others underscores our commitment to sustainability. We look forward to two days of learning how new research and specific initiatives can further our joint goals."

"Our annual meeting will advance the discussion of how ocean habitats benefit us all, and how well-informed conservation initiatives can yield lasting, measurable outcomes," added Rob Brumbaugh, director of ocean mapping and planning for The Nature Conservancy. "Mapping Ocean Wealth demonstrates what the ocean does for us today so that we can maximize what the ocean does for us tomorrow."

Supporting the 2016 Mapping Ocean Wealth meeting is the latest example of Carnival Corporation's ongoing support of The Nature Conservancy. In June 2015 the company announced that its first year of supporting The Nature Conservancy helped the conservation organization further some of its critical preservation activities. Highlights included:


• building new coral nurseries in the Caribbean
• transplanting 20,000 corals in the Bahamas and U.S. Virgin Islands
• installing new pilot reef enhancement structures to provide greater habitat for fish and a potential area for future coral growth in Grenada's Grenville Bay

Additional information on the Mapping Ocean Wealth forum is available online at http://www.oceanwealth.org, as well as via the official Twitter account @Ocean_Wealth.

Lindblad Expeditions Celebrates 50th Anniversary Of First Citizen-Explorer Voyage To Antarctica
In 1966, Lars-Eric Lindblad made history when he took 57 intrepid travelers on the first ever 'citizen explorers' cruise to Antarctica, previously the exclusive province of professional explorers and scientists. January 23rd marks the exact day that these pioneering travelers stepped off the ship and into history at Smith & Melchior Islands on the Antarctic Peninsula. It was certainly an imaginative leap in the tourism industry of his day, and for its time, almost as daring as a lunar launch today.

Lindblad Expeditions' guests in Antarctica this week honor Lars-Eric's pioneering vision with a special 50th on the iceHis conviction earned him the designation of 'father of eco-tourism.'

Lars-Eric Lindblad invented the category of 'expedition travel,' and created a model of exploration that Lindblad Expeditions follows today. Fifty years later, under the direction of Lars-Eric's son, CEO and Founder Sven Lindblad, they are guided by Lars-Eric's belief that seeing the planet's remote wild places with one's own eyes would make each visitor an advocate for preserving and protecting. And it is his legacy that Lindblad honors and sustains today in their deep commitment to conservation through the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund.

Throughout the year Lindblad will celebrate Lars-Eric's personal vision and courage - and that of the fearless travelers who dared join him in going where no tourist had gone before.


• The commemoration will include the publication of an updated edition of Lars-Eric's book, 'Passport to Anywhere' that charts the history of expedition travel from 1966 to now.
• Guests voyaging to Antarctica in the 2016/17 season will receive a complimentary vintage style edition parka, with a limited edition 50th Anniversary patch, inspired by the sterling silver pin created by Lars Eric for his Antarctic guests many years ago.
• Antarctica expeditions on National Geographic Explorer will feature a roster of Global Perspectives Speakers, a veritable 'Who's Who,' giving guests the opportunity to share an adventure with some of the greatest names in polar exploration.
• Special activities and programs are being planned and will be announced throughout the year.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.82 + 1.53%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 83.37 + 2.82%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.49 + 9.84%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.32 + 0.25%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the two converted liners that engaged in the first, and last, wartime confrontation between ocean liners.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which former Atlantic liner ended her long career being subjected to partial flooding and numerous explosions as she served as a floating prop in the 1959 MGM film The Last Voyage?

Answer - The ship was the Ile de France from 1927. The only good thing about this picture was that people who did not sail her could see her beautiful interiors. The French were very upset and I guess I would have been as well.
courtesy of Bill Forsstrom in Cincinnati


Cruise News - January 18, 2016

Queen Mary 2 Adds Passenger Mid-Crossing
When Cunard's Queen Mary 2 arrived in New York on Sunday she was carrying one more passenger than when she had departed Southampton on the first leg of her 2016 World Cruise seven days earlier. This is because a passenger from Germany gave birth to a baby boy on Saturday night. According to Cunard, the birth was the first ever onboard the line's flagship.

Queen Mary 2 Adds Passenger Mid-CrossingThe passenger, who was identified by her first name, Johanna was still three weeks from her scheduled due date when her water broke and the ship's medical staff jumped into action. According to her brother who was traveling with her, "She turned to me and said, 'It's starting!'. Johanna was taken to the ship's medical center where the ship's doctor delivered a healthy baby boy shortly thereafter.

According to the Uncle, the baby boy is named Benjamin Brooklyn - a tribute to Queen Mary 2's home port in New York. After the ship docked at 6am on Sunday, Johanna and Benjamin were taken to New York Methodist Hospital for a checkup. They were expected to stay in New York for several days.

In a statement, Johanna thanked the people of New York, "I am doing well, and the baby is incredibly healthy. I am also thankful how good the people of New York were to us".

Carnival Inspiration To Undergo Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation
The 2,052-passenger Carnival Inspiration will undergo a multi-million-dollar makeover that will add a wide range of new dining and bar innovations next month.

Carnival Inspiration To Undergo Multi-Million-Dollar RenovationThe new features will be incorporated during a three-week dry dock taking place in Portland, Ore., Jan. 18 to Feb. 5, 2016. Following the renovation, the ship will resume its year-round schedule of three- and four-day Baja cruises from Long Beach, Calif.

Here’s a look at the exciting new options that will be added to Carnival Inspiration:

• Guy’s Burger Joint, a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries enjoyed amidst a décor that celebrates the chef’s California roots and love of car culture

• BlueIguana Cantina, a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic, freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar

• RedFrog Rum Bar, a poolside watering hole offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival’s own private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red

• Alchemy Bar, a vintage-themed “cocktail pharmacy”-themed lounge with mixologists who “prescribe” concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative monikers like Forty is the New Twenty and The Restorative Basil Drop

• BlueIguana Tequila Bar, a fun and festive outdoor bar offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin’ by the pool

• Cherry On Top, the “sweetest spot on board” which celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more

In addition to these new spaces, guests sailing aboard Carnival Inspiration can check out the ship’s massive WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 300-foot-long Twister slide and a kiddie splash zone, a 24-hour pizzeria, full casino gambling, a luxurious 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health and wellness center, and the Serenity adults-only retreat.

On its year-round short cruise program from Long Beach, Carnival Inspiration departs every Friday on three-day cruises to Ensenada and every Monday on four-day cruises to Ensenada and Catalina Island.

HAL’s ms Eurodam Receives New Public Rooms and Suite Upgrades in Dry Dock
When ms Eurodam re-entered service Dec. 20, 2015, following a scheduled 14-day dry dock in the Bahamas, guests were introduced to several new concepts recently announced by Holland America Line. The most notable new additions are Lincoln Center Stage, in partnership with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, showcasing an ensemble performing chamber music; Billboard Onboard, in partnership with Billboard, featuring 50 years of chart-topping hits; and Gallery Bar, making its debut in the former Northern Lights venue.

The traditional Lido became Lido Market and received an upgrade in service and menu, and New York Pizza replaced Slice. Eurodam also is the first Holland America Line ship to undergo extensive enhancements to its suites as part of a $300 million brand enhancement initiative announced in November.

“To keep the onboard experience fresh, we’re always working to create new and innovative concepts to delight our guests,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Gallery Bar is a completely new venue for us, and several other enhancements are just starting to make their way onto the fleet, so it’s exciting that our guests are finally able to experience them all together for the first time on Eurodam.”

Entertainment Expands with Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard Guests have more entertainment options than ever before with the addition of Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard, which complement the already-existing and wildly popular B.B. King’s Blues Club. Under the exclusive partnership, Lincoln Center Stage showcases an ensemble of world-class musicians performing multiple chamber music programs nightly. On those occasions when guests are enjoying a leisurely day at sea aboard ship, the ensemble plays afternoon recitals. Billboard Onboard features the talents of live musicians — including two pianists, a guitarist and a DJ — who take turns performing dynamic shows centered around the interesting facts and figures of the music industry as chronicled by Billboard. Between the nightly sets and songs, guests can sing and play along with trivia questions presented on screens throughout the room. ms Oosterdam will also receive these venues during its April dry dock, and other Vista- and Signature-class ships will see the additions over the next few years.

During the dry dock, Eurodam received the line’s first Gallery Bar.Raising a Glass in Gallery Bar - During the dry dock, Eurodam received the line’s first Gallery Bar. The sophisticated venue, serving an exclusive cocktail menu by celebrity mixologist Dale DeGroff, replaces Northern Lights and is adorned with an eclectic and whimsical mix of artwork including portraits, landscapes, still-life and abstract pieces. The décor was designed to engage guests and facilitate conversations in a relaxing environment. It will be introduced on ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Westerdam, ms Oosterdam and ms Zuiderdam by May 2018 as the ships enter their respective dry docks.

Food and Service Reign at Lido Market - The traditional casual Lido buffet has been transformed into the new Lido Market concept — a marketplace with different themed stations offering a select array of delicious options guests can grab on the go or have quickly made to order, from classic comfort food to dishes from around the globe to freshly made personalized salads. The range of choices includes specialty stations such as Breadboard, with fresh-baked breads and pastries; Wild Harvest, offering a bountiful selection of ingredients for made-to-order salads; Homestead, serving up comfort classics; Distant Lands, featuring exotic flavors from around the globe; Market Central, serving continental breakfast or light meals to go; Perk, where freshly brewed coffee, hot and iced tea and chilled juices are available; and Sweet Spot, dishing up delightful ice cream creations and desserts. Service at Lido Market is enhanced with coffee, juices, water and iced tea served tableside; and in the evening the tables have an upgraded setting with placemats, glassware and cutlery awaiting guests after they select their food from the new menu.

Pizza Made the New York Way - New York Pizza, which debuted on ms Nieuw Amsterdam, replaces Slice. New York Pizza offers five Big Apple-themed thin-crust personal pizzas made to order in less than 10 minutes, as well as the option to select your own preferred toppings from an extensive list. After ordering, diners are given a pager to alert them when their pie comes out of the oven. In the meantime, they can enjoy a salad, and afterwards the pizzeria offers a couple of sweet desserts to top off the meal.

Suite Accommodations Just Got Better - Eurodam is the first ship in the fleet to receive the suite upgrades planned for the line’s Signature-, Vista- and R-class ships. The main living area in each suite was refreshed with new furniture, carpet, wall coverings and soft goods. Electronic upgrades included a new USB outlet added to the bed’s headboard, bedside LED reading lights, upgraded electrical outlets and a lighted closet rod. Neptune and Pinnacle suites also received a Bose Bluetooth speaker.

Suite bathrooms also received a makeover, with designer glass tile serving as a backdrop to the refreshed vanity area. Other enhancements include contemporary mirrors with integrated LED lighting, stylish floor tiles and a nightlight.

A new interactive television system was installed throughout the ship, featuring large LED flat-screen TV’s with complimentary movies on demand as well as easy access to the daily program and shipboard information including restaurant overviews, spa services and guest billing

Royal Caribbean Announces Agreement with Forbidden City’s Imperial Palace Museum
Royal Caribbean International and the Imperial Palace Museum (the Palace Museum) held a joint press conference today at a signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement in the Forbidden City’s Jianfu Palace. Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship that debuts in April, will be the first to homeport in China immediately after its delivery. Her name is interpreted in Chinese as “praising the world and welcoming guests from everywhere” and she will offer a world-class international cruise vacation experience to guests from Tianjin beginning June 2016. The signing ceremony officially launches the “2016 – Let’s Ovation” campaign in China and marks the countdown to Ovation of the Seas’ maiden voyage in China.

Royal Caribbean Announces Agreement with Forbidden City’s Imperial Palace Museum As part of the agreement, experts from different research fields selected by the Palace Museum will be invited to give lectures of Chinese history and culture to guests on Ovation of the Seas. The Palace Museum also will provide professional consultation of the ship’s interior décor and art program. In addition, signature pieces from the collections of the Imperial Palace Museum will be on display to promote the traditional culture and arts of China. Paintings and art pieces created by artists from the Palace Museum will be available for guests to purchase at auctions held onboard.

“We are proud of the extensive collection of art and relics that represent the imperial treasures of the Ming and Qing Dynasties and it is our goal at The Palace Museum to showcase the traditional Chinese culture to people all over the world,” said Shan Jixian, Director of the Imperial Palace Museum. “This partnership with Royal Caribbean International and our programs on Ovation of the Seas will help to further these objectives. We are excited to promote the rich heritage of the Forbidden City and China to the guests of the world’s largest global cruise line and we hope to continue to expand on these efforts.”

Dr. Zinan Liu, President of North APAC and China, Royal Caribbean International said: “Cruising is becoming increasingly popular with Chinese travelers and Royal Caribbean’s award-winning and state-of-the-art ships with features found only on Royal Caribbean are very appealing to those consumers looking for a high quality vacation experience. Quantum of the Seas has been very well received by our Chinese guests and we are excited to now bring Ovation of the Seas to Tianjin. Sailing two of the world’s newest and most technologically advanced ships in China demonstrate our leadership and commitment to the market and this partnership with the Palace Museum showcasing China’s rich heritage will bring yet another unique element to our vacation offering.”

Ovation of the Seas and her sister ship Quantum of the Seas are both Quantum Class ships built with the most advanced technologies. The Quantum class features unprecedented first-at-sea features and amenities, including the North Star, an observation capsule that gently rises more than 300 feet in the air to treat guests to breath-taking panoramic views; thrilling skydiving and surfing experiences; TWO70 a daily social space which transforms into a multifunctional entertainment place at night; SeaPlex, the largest indoor activity space at sea, that features basketball, roller skating, bumper cars and other entertainment. There are 18 restaurants onboard with a variety of cuisines to choose from. The unique loft suites offer the most luxurious accommodations at sea, and Virtual Balcony staterooms, are interior accommodations with large digital screens displaying real-time views which ensure that every room has a view.

Ovation of the Seas will be officially launched in April 2016, when she departs Southampton for Tianjin, China on a 53-day Global Odyssey. She will begin her first homeport sailing season in China from Tianjin in June 2016. Ovation of the Seas, together with Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas, will make up the largest fleet of any cruise line sailing in China.

Carnival Corporation Appoints Chairman in China
Carnival Corporation today announced that Roger Chen has been appointed chairman in China, effective January 1, 2016. A native of China, Chen will be based in Shanghai and lead all government relations and port development, while also supporting the company's joint ventures in China. In this new role, Chen will have responsibility for representing all of Carnival Corporation's brands in China to continue growing the company's industry-leading presence and scale in the region.

Carnival Corporation today announced that Roger Chen has been appointed chairman in China, effective January 1, 2016Chen will report directly to Alan Buckelew, chief operations officer for Carnival Corporation, who relocated to Shanghai in 2014 to oversee operations in China. Buckelew will continue to provide strategic leadership to drive the company's long-term growth plans in Asia. Michael Ungerer, recently named chief operations officer-shared services for Carnival Asia, continues in his strategic role to support growth across the brands in Asia, reporting to Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group, with a dotted line to Chen.

"Roger comes to us with over 25 years of experience working for major global companies that have significant operations in China, as well as time spent working within the Chinese government, all of which will be invaluable to our growth strategy in China and Asia as a whole," said Alan Buckelew, chief operations officer for Carnival Corporation. "We look forward to Roger's leadership and deep knowledge of government affairs as he oversees Carnival Corporation's strategic initiatives across all our brands in China, where we expect continued growth and expansion as the leading cruise operator in what has quickly become one of the fastest growing markets in the world."

As a veteran leader in China, Chen's background includes strong expertise in corporate and government affairs, and in-depth knowledge of the Chinese government's policies and operations. Chen's experience includes several senior positions where he led strategic efforts in China for major multi-national corporations, including General Electric, Microsoft, Volvo Group and Alcatel. Most recently, Chen served as China president for Volvo Group, representing the company's interests across all business groups in China.

With the appointments of Roger Chen and Michael Ungerer, Carnival Corporation continues to bolster its Asia leadership team, which already includes veteran brand leaders Buhdy Bok, president of Costa Asia, and Anthony Kaufman, executive vice president, international operations for Princess Cruises. Among their overall responsibilities, Bok and Kaufman oversee operations in China for their respective brands, which currently anchor Carnival Corporation's market-leading presence in China with four total ships.

In 2016, Costa and Princess will again expand with each brand adding a ship to its fleet in China, representing a 58 percent increase in capacity in China in 2016, and making Carnival Corporation the first global cruise company with six total ships based in China later this year. In summer 2017, Princess Cruises will launch thefirst vessel built specifically for Chinese guests, Majestic Princess, which will be based in China year-round.

Additionally, the company has announced plans to operate two additional cruise brands in China in 2017. Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises will join Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises in the Chinese market in 2017, making Carnival Corporation the first company to operate four cruise brands in China. In December, the company announced it will build two new 135,500-ton ships with Italian-shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. for Costa Asia for deployment in China by 2020.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.07 - 9.03%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 81.08 - 13.38%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.54 - 0.39%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.20 - 15.71%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which former Atlantic liner ended her long career being subjected to partial flooding and numerous explosions as she served as a floating prop in the 1959 MGM film The Last Voyage?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
In 1973 CY Tung's Orient Overseas Line purchased 2 American passenger ships - what were their old and new names?

Answer - The ships were President Wilson & President Cleveland - which became Oriental Empress & Oriental President.
courtesy of Robert Stanley, Pelzer, SC


Cruise News - January 11, 2016

Celebrity Unveils New Global Campaign with "Modern Luxury Lives Here"
From the cruise line that brought the world the stunningly designed Solstice Class ships, which introduced a boutique-hotel feel that has evolved into a fully integrated modern luxury experience, comes a new, global brand campaign that acts as a beacon to discerning travelers who love exceptional cuisine, fine wine, luxurious accommodations, and rich destination experiences. Debuting today, Celebrity Cruises' bold new "Modern Luxury Lives Here" campaign leverages the iconic "X" in the Celebrity logo, and showcases what makes Celebrity truly unique. The fully integrated campaign will be visible across all channels, most noticeably on TV, digital and social media.

Celebrity Unveils New Global Campaign with Modern Luxury Lives HereThe cruise line's new 30- and 60-second TV spots, named "Marco Polo," offer a modern interpretation of the well-known game of call and response from childhood days gone by. The spot transcends the simplicity of the game when Celebrity Cruises staff members beckon like-minded travelers to answer the call of modern luxury. The spot targets those who would appreciate the experience that Celebrity delivers, just as Marco Polo was an explorer of the world who loved to discover and travel the globe. This creative will be complemented by three additional 30-second TV spots, which will debut later this month, and show what makes Celebrity so special. Two of these additional spots will also have a special 15-second version. The campaign marks the first public manifestation of Celebrity's collaboration with its new global creative agency, Venables Bell & Partners (VB&P).

"We are excited about the way 'Modern Luxury Lives Here' shows just how unique Celebrity is, and I love how our crew members and staff appear in our 'Marco Polo' spot," Lutoff-Perlo said. "The entire campaign brings to life, through storytelling and beautiful cinematography, some of our most important values, such as curiosity, discernment and experiences over possessions. No one delivers modern luxury more comprehensively than Celebrity, and this campaign clearly communicates that message."

"This is a recruitment drive," said Paul Venables, Chairman of VB&P. "We are calling out to not just those who cruise but to all modern luxury travelers. The fact is, Celebrity offers a superior modern luxury experience, and we have to break the usual category conventions to serve that up to discerning vacationers."

Socially, consumers will be invited to share their vacation stories on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest using #celebritycruises. Best-in-class social media experiences will feature engaging and innovative content by way of both paid and organic media as well as static mosaics and carousels on Instagram, promoted tweets on Twitter, and dynamic product ads on Facebook.

The campaign builds on a series of creatively presented hallmarks of a Celebrity vacation including award-winning dining, extraordinary accommodations and service, rich destination experiences, plus more, while travelling to all seven continents in modern luxury style.

Harmony Of The Seas Introduces All-New Entertainment Lineup
Royal Caribbean International's newest and hottest ship yet, Harmony of the Seas – sailing to Europe's most popular destinations in the Western Mediterranean, beginning May 2016 – is setting the stage for an entertainment ensemble unlike anything ever seen before in one place. The innovative global cruise line is pulling back the curtain on the unexpected entertainment offerings that come together onboard Harmony of the Seas – from the hot summer nights of Broadway's hit musical Grease, to high-tech, high-definition ice shows in Studio B and jaw-dropping, high-flying, immersive performances at the oceanfront AquaTheater, and, for the first time, Puzzle Break, an interactive, problem-solving group activity, is in a dedicated, fully-produced space, fit for a Hollywood studio where guests are challenged to Escape the Rubicon, and so much more.

Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, will span 16 guest decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,497 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms."We are taking entertainment to the next level on Harmony of the Seas with more captivating, immersive entertainment experiences than ever before," said Nick Weir, Vice President, Entertainment, Royal Caribbean International. "The level of innovation that has gone into our latest lineup is truly mind blowing, and Harmony guests can expect the unexpected with our biggest, most awe-inspiring stage yet."

Royal Caribbean International's newest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas that debuts in May 2016, will premiere original aqua show "The Fine Line." The high-energy, adrenaline-pumping performance in the AquaTheater will have guests at the edge of their seats, witnessing high-flying feats, mind blowing stunts and physically demanding acrobatics.

Royal Caribbean International's newest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas that debuts in May 2016, will premiere original aqua show "The Fine...

The Biggest Curtain Call Yet - The main theater onboard Harmony of the Seas, the Royal Theater, is a spectacular, state-of-the-art space that enlists 21st century technology to create a performance environment that supersedes traditional theaters. Seating 1,380 guests, the Royal Theater is home to two headline shows presented by Royal Caribbean Productions:


• Columbus, The Musical! – an original Royal Caribbean production created in the spirit of "Spamalot" and "Something Rotten," the story recounts the imagined history of Marvin Columbus, Christopher's fictional, down on his luck, distant cousin. Banished from his family's kingdom, Marvin sets sail on a madcap voyage of discovery in the hopes of claiming his own place in history. Unforeseen romance and a "happily ever after" story are on the map as Marvin Columbus crashes into his Caribbean destiny. A breathtaking and revolutionary set design, transporting the audience across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, will awe the entire family and adults will thoroughly enjoy the smart, nuanced humor.
• Grease – the all-new, never-before-seen stage production, specially adapted by Royal Caribbean Productions, will boast original choreography, costumes and aerial elements set to amaze the most seasoned theater goers. Featuring a soundtrack of crowd favorites such as "Summer Nights," "Greased Lightnin'," "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," "Born to Hand-Jive," "Beauty School Dropout" and more, guests will follow the romantic twists and turns of Sandy and Danny as they navigate the tricky social waters of Rydell High School while keeping their reputations – and relationship – together. AquaTheater Reaches New Heights

 The Fine Line. The high-energy, adrenaline-pumping performance in the AquaTheaterThe theatrical possibilities of the AquaTheater, the distinct high diving, acrobatic performance space introduced by Royal Caribbean with the Oasis class of ships, are pushed to breathtaking new limits onboard Harmony of the Seas. New aerial capabilities will elevate the thrilling entertainment repertoire, creating an all-encompassing theatrical experience where the audience will witness heart-stopping balancing tricks on the highline and aerial maneuvers by acro-artists allowing them to dip into the audience and catapult back to the stage. Two 10-meter high platforms and the hydraulic-floored pool, the largest and deepest freshwater pool at sea, below will serve as podiums for high-diving, hair-raising aerobatics that AquaTheater audiences have come to love. The signature venue will boast the caliber of shows only presented on a Royal Caribbean stage, where innovations intermingle with emotions to defy the imagination. New AquaTheater shows include:


• The Fine Line – a journey from extreme to extraordinary, The Fine Line is the AquaTheater redefined with high-flying feats, mind blowing stunts and physically demanding acrobatics brought to life by the world's best extreme-sport athletes. Designed as a 360 degree immersive entertainment show, revelers will be wishing for eyes in the back of their head to take in all the action happening around them.
• Hideaway Heist – a dive into hilarious escapades, guests will steal some laughs and experience amazing wows with Royal Caribbean's new comedy dive show, Hideaway Heist. This action packed comedy aqua show jumps into the world of a swanky 1950's holiday resort where guys 'n' dolls take the audience on a frolicking escapade in, on and around the pool as an undercover detective, playing the part of a high-rolling vacationer, pursues a crafty burglar. Guests can expect plenty of family-friendly fun and awe-inspiring performance tricks as the staff of the Hideaway Resort solve the crime of a century.

A Futuristic Spin on the Ice - Ice shows leap into the future on Harmony of the Seas, where world-class skaters perform extraordinary skills as stunning multimedia visuals, audio and state-of-the-art technology provide a sight and sound theatrical extravaganza. Guests will watch as the surface of the ice rink in Studio B transforms before their very eyes, creating a backdrop of ultra-high definition video, which blends fantasy with reality. The result is a dazzling new canvas on which incredible artists demonstrate their unbelievable skills. New Studio B performances include:


• 1887 – an original Royal Caribbean production about love and adventure that begins in Paris on February 14, 1887 at the height of the career of Jules Verne, renowned author of timeless adventure novels such as "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1864), "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" (1870), and "Around the World in Eighty Days" (1873). Beginning their journey on the frozen River Seine, Juliet and her mysterious time traveling companion, the Tempus, travel in multiple dimensions to discover the wonders of the world, and of the heart. World-class skaters and striking technology combine in a unique way that is guaranteed to leave audiences both breathless and emotionally touched.
• iSkate Showcase – a Studio B ice show unlike any other where Royal Caribbean's talented skaters put their best blade forward in a dazzling showcase of their very best moves set to their own favorite tunes. The cast goes rogue and anything can happen! Fan Favorites Hit a High Note

On Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean favorites are back and better than ever, including:


• Puzzle Break: Escape the Rubicon – a puzzle that transports players to another world and another time where they must ESCAPE! Players will collaborate with friends, old and new, as they attempt to find the hidden clues needed to solve a collection of puzzles that will eventually unravel the mystery of the Rubicon. With only 60 minutes of life-support, the suspense builds with every tick of the clock. For the first time, this remarkably popular activity will take place in a dedicated space designed in partnership with ShowFX Inc., a staple for Hollywood studios' engineering, design and fabrication of custom entertainment equipment.
• Red Party – the hottest high-energy party at sea. With DJs, surprise performances, special effects and technology, this all out nightlife extravaganza is an experience not to be missed.
• Stowaway Piano – the pop-up piano player, which originally debuted on Anthem of the Seas, heads to Harmony. Behind the door. Around the corner. In the elevator. By the pool. Guests never know where the Stowaway Piano will turn up next.

The Royal Promenade Returns - On the Royal Promenade, Harmony of the Seas continues the tradition of Royal Caribbean's signature theme nights and parades with:


• Totally Awesome 90s – Harmony of the Seas debuts the evolution of Royal Caribbean's much-loved Promenade 70s Party as the clock is pushed forward to the 90s. Guests can party it up in a new era when soundtracks are dominated by teen pop, dance-pop and the growing popularity of hip hop. A live DJ spinning favorite 90s hits, live pop-up performances and crazy neon track suits set the stage to transport partygoers back to this totally awesome decade.
• Let's Celebrate! – when on a cruise, vacationers really don't need an excuse to celebrate, but Royal Caribbean is giving guests one anyway with Let's Celebrate! – the ultimate celebration of celebrations. Halloween, Birthdays, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Fourth of July and New Year's Eve will all be celebrated at once, in a wild and crazy parade that's truly unforgettable.

Guests on Harmony of the Seas also can belt out tunes at the On Air Club, revel in a symphony of brass brilliance with the High Cs Horns, Harmony's very own horn-led, nine piece orchestra, and take in live comedy and music at Harmony's brand new nighttime hotspot, The Attic.

Carnival Corporation's New Sustainability Report Highlights Key Environmental and Social Initiatives
Carnival Corporation & plc released its 2014 Sustainability Report in December detailing the company's sustainability efforts across its 10 cruise line brands, including its 2020 sustainability goals. The sustainability report was prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 "core" level, and a full copy can be downloaded from Carnival Corporation's site.

Carnival Corporation's New Sustainability Report Highlights Key Environmental and Social Initiatives"As the largest cruise company in the world, with healthy oceans and seas core to our operations and with most of our employees living and working at sea, the very essence of our business is built on sustainable and transparent practices," said Bill Burke, chief maritime officer for Carnival Corporation. "Our goal is to make sure our 11 million annual guests have a great vacation experience, and to maintain a positive and thriving workplace for our employees. We maintain this commitment by keeping our guests and crew members safe, providing extraordinary customer service, protecting the environment in which we work and live, hiring great employees passionate about their work, having positive relationships with our suppliers and other stakeholders, enhancing the port communities our ships visit and the communities where we work, and maintaining our fiscal strength. These core values are among the cornerstones to our success as a business."

Sustainability Goals
As highlighted in the report, Carnival Corporation has established 10 goals for reducing its environmental footprint over the next five years, while enhancing the health, safety and security of its guests and crewmembers, and ensuring sustainable business practices among its brands, business partners and suppliers. Three of the 10 goals focus on developing, deploying and operating exhaust gas cleaning systems for clean air emissions, increasing cold ironing capacity and further reducing the intensity of equivalent carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e). View Carnival Corporation's 2020 sustainability goals infographic here.

Carnival Corporation announced in November 2014 that it had met its corporate goal to reduce its rate of CO2e emissions from shipboard operations by 20 percent – a year ahead of its initial plan. After meeting its initial goal a year ahead of schedule, Carnival Corporation has renewed its goal to continue reducing the rate of CO2e emissions – also known as greenhouse gas emissions -- by 25 percent from its 2005 baseline.

This renewed goal for 2020 extends and reinforces the company's aggressive initiative to further reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions. As part of the effort, the company and its 10 global brands have developed strategic energy reduction and conservation initiatives, many of which exceed current laws and regulations.

Sustainable Practices Highlighted in Report
Recently the company announced its four next-generation cruise ships to be built for Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises will be the first in the industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel. Pioneering a new era in the use of low carbon fuels, these new ships will use LNG to generate 100 percent of the ship's power both in port and on the open sea – an innovation that will significantly reduce exhaust emissions to help protect the environment and support overall sustainability initiatives.

In 2014, the company released its Business Partner Code of Conduct and Ethics to help business partners within the supply chain to more fully understand and comply with Carnival Corporation's expectation for legal compliance and ethical behavior. This includes the areas of labor and human rights, environmental protection, business integrity and health, safety and security.

In June 2014, the Carnival Foundation donated $2.5 million over a five-year period to The Nature Conservancy, one of the world's leading conservation organizations, to advance the preservation of the world's oceans and seas. Carnival Corporation's support to The Nature Conservancy will significantly accelerate coral reef restoration initiatives, enhance the value of marine ecosystem services through the Mapping Ocean Wealth program and continue to advance important science that shows how natural systems can help reduce risks to coastal communities from storms and rising sea levels.

In June 2015, the company introduced Fathom, a new brand pioneering a new travel category called impact travel, which is built around mindful, purpose-driven activities and programs that enable guests to make a real sustainable impact in the communities to which the company travels. In 2016, Fathom will make its maiden voyages to two vibrant Caribbean destinations - Cuba and the Dominican Republic - each with different cultures and each with different objectives, but both with common dreams for the well-being of their people.

Additional Sustainable Initiatives
In addition to these initiatives, Carnival Corporation and its 10 brands implement extensive measures to deliver on the corporate commitment to continue to keep guests and crewmembers safe and comfortable, protect the environment, develop and provide opportunities for its workforce, strengthen its stakeholder relations and enhance the communities in which the company visits and operates. These efforts are detailed in the 2014 sustainability report – highlights include:


• Spotlighting Carnival Corporation & plc Board Member Debra Kelly-Ennis for her leadership and board membership since 2012.
• Designing and developing an industry-first Maritime Security Training Program in the Philippines in 2013 and 2014. The program was launched in January 2015. Corporate Security standards require all new security guards to attend the certified training program prior to joining a company ship.
• Focusing on hiring and retaining a team of diverse, highly motivated and engaged employees, a key factor in delivering vacation experiences that exceed guests' expectations. The company placed a number of executives into new roles during the year, including five brand presidents and several executive operations and staff roles.
• Taking more than 10.6 million guests on vacation across 100 ships in 2014. Over 3.4 million of them were first-time cruisers.

Age of Discovery: A Unique Collaboration between Cunard, The Savoy, and Jack Daniel’s
Three of the world’s most highly acclaimed brands, renowned for their traditions of service and excellence, are embarking on a unique collaboration that circumnavigates the globe. This January (2016), Cunard, The Savoy and Jack Daniel’s will produce Age of Discovery – a specially created, barrel aged, limited edition cocktail.

Age of Discovery: A Unique Collaboration between Cunard, The Savoy, and Jack Daniel’sThe cocktail itself will mature in a hand chosen 300 litre, Jack Daniel’s barrel to be taken on board Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2 during her 41,000 nautical mile, four-month World Voyage - departing from Southampton on January 10, 2016.

Age of Discovery has been formulated by the team at the world-famous Savoy Beaufort Bar, named Best International Hotel Bar 2015. Inspired and influenced by the tastes and aromas of the continents Queen Mary 2 will visit, from Europe to Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania, the Jack Daniel’s cocktail will be mixed at The Savoy before the barrel is sealed and bonded for its World Voyage.

The Age Of Discovery cocktail features a blend of Savoy Select Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 and Bacardi 8, with Spice Trail Madeira, Dubonnet, Martini Riserva Rubino and Earl Grey and Cocoa nib bitters.

Painstaking attention to detail and refinement has gone into the choice of ingredients. The cocktail itself has been crafted to reflect both Cunard’s 175-year ocean-going heritage and the decades of history and patronage associated with The Savoy’s famous cocktail bars. Its home for the voyage, a Jack Daniel’s first fill American oak barrel, was carefully chosen by The Savoy’s Assistant Food and Beverage Director, Daniel Baernreuther.

Daniel travelled to the Jack Daniel distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee and personally chose the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel to be used in Age of Discovery. Daniel then had the barrel itself transported whole to The Savoy in London. This is the very same barrel that will play host to Age of Discovery for its global journey.

During her four month circumnavigation, Queen Mary 2 will visit 39 ports of call in 27 countries. The barrel will be secured in open deck space for the duration of the voyage to expose it to the varied elements and climates that will influence the final result. Prevailing temperatures, humidity and sunlight – as well as more inclement conditions - will combine to produce this truly unique barrel-aged cocktail.

The progress of Age of Discovery will be charted via social media throughout the passage, across the oceans, and will appear in the world’s most iconic ports and cities. The barrel will also have its own unique Log Book.

When Queen Mary 2 returns to Southampton on May 10, 2016, the barrel will be ceremoniously unloaded and will travel to the specially-commissioned Houston Bottling & Co Pack plant in West Dunbartonshire.

It is estimated that the unique barrel will yield a minimum of 250 litres of Age of Discovery, which will become the latest in The Savoy Collection; one of the world's most prestigious and unique collections of one-of-a-kind spirits and liquids. Launched in 2013, The Savoy Collection was created with the support of esteemed cocktail experts, Speciality Drinks, to celebrate the rare and the beautiful from the world of drinks.

Created by the talented team at The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar, the Age Of Discovery cocktail has been designed to represent the diverse areas through which it will travel on board the Queen Mary 2 and takes its inspiration from the thrilling era of naval exploration between the 15th and 18th centuries. The un-aged cocktail will be available at the Beaufort Bar from Sunday, January 10, 2016.

“Cunard is proud to partner with The Savoy in creating Age of Discovery,” said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. “Both Cunard and The Savoy are distinguished luxury brands that are renowned for the rich experiences and service that we both provide for our guests. We are also delighted to offer the unique opportunity for our guests to sample a non-aged version of this cocktail on board Queen Mary 2as we continue to inspire and captivate individuals worldwide in the adventure and excitement of a Cunard World Voyage.

HAL Partners with Master Mixologist to Create Menu of Unique Libations
Whether you like your drinks on the rocks, straight up, shaken or stirred, Holland America Line's new partnership with 2015 James Beard Who's Who Inductee and Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff brings an innovative menu of creative cocktails to the premium cruise line. DeGroff's creations will debut aboard ms Eurodam this month and will expand fleetwide by springtime.

HAL Partners with Master Mixologist to Create Menu of Unique LibationsContinuing Holland America Line's commitment to offer an exceptional food and beverage experience, DeGroff — known as "King Cocktail," author of two best-selling cocktail books and founding president of The Museum of the American Cocktail — has developed a drink menu to showcase artfully prepared signature classics as well as some unique originals.

"For many guests, there's nothing better than relaxing with a well-made, unique cocktail after a long day of sightseeing or before dinner, and adding a master mixologist to our team gives us the diversity we seek in creating the most robust food and beverage program at sea," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "We're excited to welcome the talents of Dale DeGroff to our family, and we know our guests are going to enjoy his innovative creations."

DeGroff's signature cocktails will be served in the Gallery Bar, introduced on ms Eurodam following a December 2015 drydock, and in other shipboard bars and lounges, including Ocean Bar, Explorer's Lounge, Crow's Nest and Tamarind Bar, as well as more casual outlets such as the Lido pool bar. His creations will be served fleetwide by spring 2016.

DeGroff's cocktail menu includes the Gallery Gimlet, Hemingway Daiquiri, Yuzu Margarita, The Ritz Cocktail, Whiskey and Joe, Another Shade of Greyhound, and a "Slightly Less Than Perfect" Perfect Manhattan. Many of these drinks have a storied past. The Hemingway Daiquiri is a unique spin off of Hemingway's favorite drink, the Papa Doble. The Ritz Cocktail is a dazzling champagne cocktail presented with a burst of flamed orange peel and was one of the most popular drinks at the legendary Rainbow Room where DeGroff created it as a tribute to the Ritz cocktails of Paris and Madrid.

In addition to creating exclusive cocktails for all Holland America Line bars, DeGroff also will oversee staff training to ensure his signature cocktails will be crafted to perfection.

DeGroff developed skills, techniques and expertise while tending bar for three decades at various notable establishments including New York's famous Rainbow Room. He has received the James Beard Award for Wine & Spirits, was inducted into the prestigious James Beard Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America in 2015 and is author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail. He is a partner in the award-winning Beverage Alcohol Resource bar-training program and founding president of the Museum of the American Cocktail. DeGroff also produces his own Dale DeGroff's Aromatic Bitters brand, which he developed with renowned absinthe distiller Ted Breaux.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 53.94 - 0.48%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 93.60 - 4.63%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.55 - 1.16%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 56.00 - 3.43%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
In 1973 CY Tung's Orient Overseas Line purchased 2 American passenger ships - what were their old and new names?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which French Line ship struck a reef and caught fire off the coast of Mustique in the Caribbean? As recently as the early 1990's her broken hull was still visible on the reef.

Answer - On January 8, 1971 with 650 souls aboard French Line's Antilles became grounded on an uncharted reef at Mustique Island. In an attempt to free the ship the Master ordered fuel to be dumped overboard. Bad idea. This caused a fire in the engine room which spread to the restaurant. The passengers scattered to local islands by lifeboats and liferafts. The QE2 came to the rescue of the passengers plucking 510 from Mustique Island alone. Two days later a merchant ship found 85 crew members adrift in a lifeboat. There was no loss of life in the incident.
courtesy of Robert Stanley, Pelzer, SC

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